Jake Arrieta, who was dealt to the Chicago Cubs today along with reliever Pedro Strop for pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger, was on his way to the Norfolk clubhouse to meet with some his teammates and say goodbye before packing and leaving for Triple-A Iowa, when he returned a phone call.
He said he expects to throw a bullpen session at Iowa and make a couple starts there before the Cubs decide whether he’ll be coming up to the big leagues.
Arrieta was considered an ace of the future and was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter in 2012, but he couldn’t maintain consistency and was shuttled back and forth from the minors.
Here’s some of our conversation:
What was your immediate reaction to the trade?
“I’m kind of in between emotions. It’s sad, but also exciting. It’s still sinking in. I think it is the best for everybody. It’s something I knew was a possibility.”
What was the conversation with Dan Duquette like?
“It was a pretty comfortable conversation until I hung up and then was like ‘Did that really happen?’ It is still something that will continue to sink in. It’s going to be tough not being with the group of great guys you have been with. I’ve been in the same organization for as many years as I’ve been in pro ball. That’s going to be a big change. I think for both sides, it kind of came to that fork in the road and they chose to make a trade.”
Can you think of this as a change of scenery?
“I think that is really the best way to look at it. This is something that is going to do me a lot of good. To go to the Cubs and just start over, really. I have lots of experiences and have pitched through different situations and have been part of a lot of different Orioles’ teams. I know what it takes to pitch at a high level now and what it takes to win in a highly competitive division. I look forward to starting over, but also bringing my past experiences of everything I’ve done and the ways I have grown as a player and a person. And I plan on bringing that to Chicago in a positive way.”
What do you know about the Cubs?
“The first thing that pops into my head is the storied franchise and Wrigley Field and a schedule full of day games and things of that nature. As far as specific details of the team, I’m not 100 percent familiar, but I guess it is time for me to become more familiar with my new teammates and their staff. And that’s an exciting process to get to know more people a lot better.”
What about leaving Baltimore without proving to the Orioles’ fans that you could be a consistent major leaguer?
“That’s always been something that’s frustrating for me not to be able to do. I know you shouldn’t necessarily think about it, but I got a lot of gratification, a lot of satisfaction when I could perform to their expectations, and they were pretty close to the expectations I have for myself. It’s not like I felt 100 percent that I let people down. But I feel there’s a lot more I could have shown them and I just wanted to be able to do that in Baltimore. But that’s stuff I will use as motivation going forward to have more success with my new organization.”
What are your thoughts on leaving Baltimore?
“I absolutely loved the city of Baltimore, I got to know the community, and it was a special time for me, and I will always like Baltimore. I’ve spent six years of my career there and that will always be special to me.”
Is there part of you that wants to prove the critics wrong?
“It’s not just to prove people wrong, but to show that I can perform better than I have lately. I want to be successful no matter where I’m at, with the Orioles or with another organization. And having success is not really contingent on proving people wrong. I want to go out there and prove to myself that I can pitch at an extremely high level and be successful in the majors, whether it’s the American League East or the National League. I just want to pitch at a high level for a major league club.”
Any final thoughts?
“I’ll probably have more in the next day or two when I think more about this and move forward. I just really enjoyed my time there and want everyone, the fans included, to know just how special my time with the Orioles was. Some of those guys are my best friends and I’ll keep in close contact with a lot of them. There were a lot of good staff members that have helped me a lot and I will always be thankful. When my career is over, I’ll always look back on Baltimore, on the people I met and the knowledge I acquired.”