PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Right-hander Jake Arrieta, who had a large bone spur removed from his pitching elbow last August, threw two hitless innings in his 2012 Grapefruit League debut Friday, and his fastball registered 97 mph on the stadium scoreboard.
He faced seven hitters and threw 24 pitches -- 17 for strikes -- in the Orioles' exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Charlotte Sports Complex. He walked one batter but left the game feeling like he had pitched a regular-season perfect game.
“I’ve really never felt this good since I’ve been a pro,’’ Arrieta said. “There’s still room for improvement. I’ve still got some strength to gain back. But I think it’s going to be a really fun year.”
Arrieta seemed almost wistful reflecting on what he went through over the past few years to get to this point. He said earlier this spring that he had been pitching with pain in his elbow as far back as high school.
“[This performance] made it all worthwhile,’’ he said. “Pitching with the bone spur last year and getting the bone spur taken out the beginning of August when I did, it was a hard position to be in. Having to contemplate surgery. Being shut down for the year. Not knowing what the results would be. But being in the situation where I am now, after putting in the hours of hard work, day in and day out, I can’t be happier with where I am right now.”