Jake Arrieta was fined this week by Major League Baseball, but the Phillies pitcher said he did not even bother to check the amount the league billed him after he threatened to dent the skull of New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier. After all, Arrieta was a bit preoccupied with his own bones.
He will start Sunday’s series finale against Washington as the right-hander tries to pitch with a marble-sized bone spur protruding from his right elbow. Arrieta said the bone spur, which was surgically removed eight years ago but grew back, has bothered him for the last two seasons.
The pain seemed to intensify recently as Arrieta enters Sunday with a 6.63 ERA in his last seven starts. Arrieta said he does not believe surgery, which would end his season, is currently the right option. He instead spent Friday trying different hand positions on certain pitches that could alleviate the pain when he’s throwing. The bone spur has particularly affected the way he throws his curveball and changeup.
“It could get to a point, and I'm well aware of it, where it's not manageable anymore,” Arrieta said. “But time will tell. I hope that's not the case. I don't think it's going to be. Just take it day by day, start by start. Once the emotions kind of subsided the last week, I'm pretty confident I can make this work and help the team.”
Arrietad made his comments about Frazier following his last start of the first half when he allowed five runs in less than five innings. He hit two batters -- including Frazier -- with changeups and allowed 11 hits. An angry Frazier was ejected and told Arrieta to “be a grown man” as he was restrained and led back to his dugout, leading to the remark for which Arrieta was fined an undisclosed amount.
Arrieta said the bone spur restricted the way he extends his arm, which affected his ability to locate his pitches. The majority of the bone spur, Arrieta said, is attached to the bone and not floating around, which he said means the injury should not “lead to anything more significant.”
“Some days are OK. Some days are a little more difficult to deal with. It’s not something that I can’t get through. The biggest thing is the effectiveness. If I’m out there and I’m costing the team a game, we’re going to address that,” Arrieta said. “There are days that are better than others. There’s really no way to tell until you start throwing and get ready for the game. Some days it's 10-15 pitches in that I feel it. Some days it's not until the fifth or sixth inning.
"The start in Miami, it really didn’t bother me until the sixth. Then I lost command, lost feel, lost velocity, and that’s usually what happens. The velocity will drop and the feel starts to go. But there are days where I can get through the majority of the start without much issue. That’s what we’re looking for. Hopefully we can have more of those than the other way around.”