SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles pitcher Jake Arrieta has been a full participant in Spring Training since Day 1 and the right-hander, coming off elbow surgery to remove a bone spur, admitted that his work this winter has made the early part of camp pretty easy.
"[Pitching coach] Rick Adair will come up to me every so often and just kind of tell me, 'Take it easy, pull it back a little bit.'" said Arrieta, whose work ethic is such that he periodically needs to be slowed down. "They are aware that I'm a guy who at times will do more than necessary. Not because I think I have to, it's just kind of my mentality.
"If there's something I can get better at, whether it's stretch for 10, 15 minutes before the workout or do a few more things in the weight room post-workout, within reason, I'll do it. I know my body a lot better than I did my first big league camp."
And for the first time since being drafted, Arrieta's body is without a spur -- roughly the size of a peanut shell -- on his pitching elbow, which was removed during a procedure that has him feeling better than ever and one he thinks will pay serious dividends on the mound.
"There's no tightness, no soreness, no pain or discomfort," said Arrieta, who went 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA last season before being shut down in early August. "I was telling some guys this is the first time since I can remember that I haven't needed to go to the training room for an hour, two hours before the workout just to be able to get through the day. So, that's a good feeling."
There are also improvements in his delivery, with Arrieta able to get into a much straighter line to the plate post-surgery, a correlation he can't describe, but one that should help improve his command.
"It's been so much easier to get the ball to certain spots," said Arrieta, who had 93 strikeouts against 59 walks last season. "I know what I need to do. I know how I need to execute the pitch and I'm able to do it with less effort. As far as my arm goes, it does feel different by the fact that I feel much better."
Projected to be part of the Orioles' starting rotation, there has also been some speculation that the 25-year-old Arrieta could possibly get a nod for this year's Opening Day. He was tabbed to start last year's home opener and with the departure of veteran Jeremy Guthrie, who was traded to Colorado, the O's have no clear-cut favorite for Opening Day.
"I don't worry about it too much," Arrieta said of the prospect of being the team's Opening Day starter. "I would love to be in that sort of situation, as many guys would. It's not something that is nerve-wracking to me or an uncomfortable situation. I feel like I've been in situations like that before and I feel like I thrive in situations like that. If I could be that guy, it'd be something I'd really look forward to."