KANSAS CITY, MO. — Jake Arrieta, the Orioles' leader in wins, has decided to have his right elbow examined in California next week and will be shut down for at least a start and likely the rest of the season.
Arrieta, 25, has been dealing with a fibrous mass in his right elbow — similar to a bone spur, but softer — for years and considered having surgery last season before choosing to pitch through it.
It mainly affects his command, and after issuing a career high six walks Sunday, he has decided to visit renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Los Angeles Angels team physician, next Wednesday.
If Arrieta chooses surgery, he could have the mass removed within days of his initial appointment, allowing him to be ready to pitch by next spring training, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. A decision on surgery will not be made until Arrieta meets with Yocum.
Showalter said he spoke to Arrieta on the plane from New York to Kansas City and Arrieta wanted Yocum, who has examined him previously, to take another look.
"The good news is there's not any pain in the area that's usually consistent with ligament issues," Showalter said. "I got a sneaking suspicion of where it's going to go, but we'll see. We'll hope for the best."
Arrieta, who is 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA in 22 starts in his first full season in the majors, will not pick up a ball until his appointment with Yocum, so he is a candidate for the disabled list. It hasn't been decided who will replace him, but the club could bring back one of the pitchers sent out this weekend, such as Jason Berken or Chris Tillman, or recall someone else such as recently acquired left-hander Zach Phillips.
Tommy Hunter, whom the Orioles traded for Saturday, could make his first Orioles start Friday, which would have been Arrieta's turn.
Orioles claim Reyes
In an attempt to bolster their pitching staff, the Orioles claimed 26-year-old left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes off waivers Tuesday and will activate him Wednesday in Kansas City.
Reyes made 20 starts this year for the Toronto Blue Jays, going 5-8 with a 5.40 ERA in 110 innings. He pitched at least six innings in 10 of those starts. He also tied a major league record by starting 28 consecutive games without a win — which spanned three years — before beating the Cleveland Indians on May 30.
"He's 26 and versatile, and we need as much depth as we can get," said Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations.
A former Atlanta Braves farmhand, Reyes has a 3.51 ERA in 121 minor league games. The plan is for him to pitch in the Orioles' bullpen, Showalter said. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, outfielder Luke Scott (shoulder surgery) was moved to the 60-day disabled list.
The Orioles officially cut ties with right-hander Justin Duchscherer, who was signed in the offseason for a guaranteed $700,000 plus incentives. He never pitched in an affiliated game, staying in Sarasota, Fla., to rehabilitate his surgically repaired left hip.
"We just didn't see any light at the end of that tunnel," MacPhail said.
The oft-injured Duchscherer will undergo his fourth hip surgery — second on his left hip — Thursday in Nashville, Tenn. Dr. Thomas Byrd, who has performed the other three surgeries, will again operate on Duchscherer. The Orioles will assume the cost of the surgery.
MacPhail said he knew the signing was risky this offseason, but "sometimes you have to take risks."
Hunter joins Orioles
Hunter, 25, started Game 4 of the 2010 World Series for the Texas Rangers and is joining a team that hasn't played in an October Classic since more than two years before Hunter was born.
Yet the husky right-hander said he couldn't be happier with the change of scenery.
"It's an opportunity. It's great. I am ready to go," said Hunter, who along with first baseman Chris Davis was dealt to the Orioles on Saturday for reliever Koji Uehara. "So I'll get out there and start playing and get to know these guys a little better."
Hunter was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) for the American League champions last year. But a groin injury slowed him this spring, and by the time he was healthy, he had lost his roster and rotation spot. He pitched eight games in relief after a July recall, posting a 2.93 ERA in 151/3 innings, but hadn't made it back into the rotation.
"Other guys stepped up. I got hurt. It's kind of the way the cookie crumbles," Hunter said. "If somebody steps up in somebody else's absence, they are not just going to go back to what you used to have. You stay with something that works. It's just the way they wanted to do it."
Hunter pitched in relief against the Royals on Tuesday, but it's still possible he'll start Friday's game against the Blue Jays.
"I came up as a starter, so I think that's the idea, to get back to the starting rotation," Hunter said.
Bergesen a father
Righty Brad Bergesen's wife, Shea, gave birth to the couple's first child, a boy, about 1 p.m. Monday. Parker Steven Bergesen weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces. Bergesen was removed from the paternity leave list Tuesday, but the smile couldn't be removed from his face.
"Just to be there and look in my son's eyes. I'm the happiest guy in the world," said Bergesen, who was available out of the bullpen Tuesday. "The baby came out, and I wept like a little boy, just like a little kid. I was very emotional."
Around the horn
Lefty Troy Patton will leave the team Wednesday to deal with a Thursday morning hearing stemming from his arrest on drunken-driving charges this winter. It's possible the Orioles send Patton (0-0, 4.15 ERA) to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Reyes instead of playing a man short. … Infielder Cesar Izturis, who had been with the club during its series in New York, has returned to Double-A Bowie to continue his rehab assignment. Izturis (right elbow surgery) played in both games of Tuesday's doubleheader — he went 1-for-4 with two RBIs in the first game and 1-for-3 in the second — and is scheduled to play nine innings at shortstop Wednesday and perhaps play again for the Baysox on Thursday morning before the Orioles re-evaluate him Friday. … Aaron Baker, whom the Orioles acquired Saturday from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Derrek Lee trade, singled in his first at-bat for Single-A Frederick. He also recorded his first home run and three RBIs. … Lee hit two homers in his first game for the Pirates on Monday. ... L.J. Hoes homered in both games of Bowie's doubleheader.