Arrieta himself thought it was a real possibility. He talked to his father on the phone Friday night about the likelihood.
But the Orioles brass contemplated Arrieta's fate to the 11th hour and decided to move their Opening Day starter to the bullpen to work out his problems instead of optioning him to Norfolk. In order to make room for Saturday's starter, right-hander
"Starting in the minor leagues was an option, something we strongly considered," Showalter said. "I don't have much doubt that Jake would go down there and do well statistically at Triple-A. Regardless of how well you do there, you can be confident of being a good pitcher in Norfolk but still have that doubt of whether or not you're going to be a good pitcher in
So instead, Arrieta, who leads the
"It's about several things," said Arrieta, who last worked as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League in 2007, when he threw 18 scoreless innings. "It's about not harping on mechanical adjustments in game. If my thought process is more focused on making mechanical adjustments than executing pitches and getting guys out, then it's going to be hard to have success, because I'm going to constantly be worrying about past pitches and past at-bats when in reality, the past is the past. There's no way to change that.
"All my focus needs to be geared toward the next pitch and the next better and those are the type of things I've attributed to my success, and I need to get back to that."
Less than 24 hours earlier, Arrieta had possibly the worst start of his career, allowing a career-high 11 hits and career-worst nine runs in just four innings of work in a 9-6 loss. It was his eighth loss in his last nine decisions.
In Arrieta's first three starts this season — which included seven shutout innings in an Opening Day win over the
"Right now, I just feel at ease," Arrieta said. "I feel at peace with everything that's gone on. What happened to me in the past month, month in a half, was mentally draining. Those type of things snowball into my next start and going out there and trying to pitch with that type of mindset, it almost feels like you're already defeated before any runs are even scored. So it feels good to kid of be at ease and clear-minded and just approach this situation with that mindset. And I think everyone will benefit from it.
"Being in the bullpen, you come into the game where you're going one, maybe two innings and you can go out there and just let it fly."
Gonzalez to start at Norfolk
Gonzalez, who pitched well out of the pen in long-relief duty, will enter the starting rotation at Triple-A Norfolk with the idea that he could return as part of the Orioles rotation. (The Orioles will next need a fifth starter on Saturday, but Gonzalez can't be recalled within 10 days unless there's an injury.)
"He's thrown three innings here," Showalter said. "He should be able to go five next time out, probably."
In two outings since his contract was purchased May 29, Gonzalez had allowed just two runs in 7 1/3 innings, pitching to a 2.45 ERA. Pitching mainly in relief at Norfolk, he was 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA, allowing just 10 hits in 30 innings and striking out 36.
Before joining the Orioles, Gonzalez — who was signed as a minor-league free agent in February — was beginning to assimilate to a starter's role. He made three starts, including his last two at Norfolk, throwing five perfect innings for the Tides on May 24.
"He stays in the fold, presented himself well," Showalter said. "He'll go down there and start. We've gotten him up to five innings, I think it's 70 pitches, which is not quite where you want to be to be a starting option, but we would like to go out there and let him do that and get stretched back out."
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Orioles first-round draft pick