Jake Arrieta was back in the Orioles clubhouse Sunday with his right arm in a sling just a couple of days after Dr. Lewis Yocum removed a very large bone spur and some smaller bone chips from his right elbow.

Arrieta showed off the spur — which was about the size of a peanut — and predicted that he'll begin a throwing program in early December.

He said he was a little relieved when he was told that the surgery went well, but was confident going into the operating room that he would not need a major reconstruction.

"The ligament is in good shape," he said. "They basically had to go in there and clean out what they had to clean out, get that piece of bone out of there to where I could get extension without that bone getting in the way of the joint.

"[Yocum] was able to clear the joint out with relative ease. It's something he's done for a long time, so obviously he's very good at the operation. It was a real quick, real short procedure. He said everything went well, and the elbow looks like it's in good shape. I've had no pain. I haven't even taken any of medication, and the sutures look great. Everything is going as planned so far."

Coming on strong

Don't act too surprised, but guess who has pitched pretty well of late? Orioles left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez. In his past 14 appearances, he's given up just three earned runs and they all came in one outing — July 18 against the Boston Red Sox. For the first time this season, his ERA is under five (4.95) and manager Buck Showalter said he feels more confident using Gonzalez in high-leverage situations these days.

Gonzalez, who has struggled with his control and his velocity during his time in Baltimore, feels more opportunities have simply led to more consistency.

"They've been putting me in more consistently, and that's usually what happens when you get regularity," Gonzalez said. "You go out there and start throwing how you're supposed to. It's kind of hard to go out there and throw once every eight days. If you're in there every few days, you obviously establish a consistency and with that comes confidence."

Gonzalez admitted he was a little frustrated at how long he would go between appearances at the beginning of the season, although it's certainly understandable from Showalter's perspective. In Gonzalez's first seven appearances this year he surrendered eight earned runs.

"When you're coming out of the bullpen and you walk a hitter and give up a bloop hit, you might have to wait nine days before you throw again," Gonzalez said. "That's tough on anybody. It's nothing to be crying about. I just had to fight an uphill battle, and now he's putting me in more consistently, and for whatever reason, I'm more consistent."

Around the horn

Zach Britton will make his next start in Norfolk on Tuesday, Showalter said. Britton threw in the bullpen Saturday and felt good. The team hopes — if all goes well in Norfolk — to give Britton seven or eight starts in the majors before the year is over.

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