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Arrieta to start on mound for Orioles in opener

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SARASOTA, Fla. (AP)

Jake Arrieta will formally mark his return from elbow surgery by starting on opening day for the Baltimore Orioles.

It's the first opening day start for the right-hander, who will face the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards on Friday.

''We're hoping he pitches well enough that he does it again next year and the year after that and the year after that,'' manager Buck Showalter said Monday.

Jeremy Guthrie was the Orioles' opening day starter for three of the past four seasons before being traded to the Colorado Rockies over the winter.

Arrieta, 26, went 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA in 22 starts last season before undergoing season-ending surgery in August to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.

His first start in 2011 came in the home opener at Camden Yards after the Orioles played their first three games against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. He went six innings, allowing one run and six hits in a 5-1 win over the Detroit Tigers.

''Real proud of him, way he's gotten back,'' Showalter said. ''He's experienced with that environment, as are some other guys we considered. ... He was one of our better pitchers last year before he had the surgery. I think Jake's certainly got the experience to handle this. If he's healthy, he's going to be a real contributor for us this year.''

Showalter called Arrieta into his office Monday afternoon to break the news.

''It's something I kind of expected to happen because of the things you hear leading up to this point, a lot of rumors, you guys (reporters) questioning, family and friends reading articles,'' Arrieta said. ''You kind of know about that kind of stuff, hear stuff through camp. To finally hear it today, it feels good. It's a nice way to set the tone for the season. It's special.

''All the work that I did throughout the offseason, post-surgery to get to this point, was stuff I was going to do regardless if I was going to be starting opening day or the third, fourth, fifth game. But to be in this position, 100 percent healthy and still getting stronger, it's very rewarding.''

Arrieta, a fifth-round pick in the 2007 amateur draft, intends to control his emotions and not let all the festivities distract from the matter at hand Friday.

''I think the biggest thing to me is managing the adrenaline,'' he said. ''When I run out onto the field before the anthem, that's when everything's going to be taken up a notch. I think just having that internal dialogue with myself, just to tell myself to remain calm or take deep breaths or whatever the case may be, whatever it takes to calm myself down, I will.

''It's easier said than done. Not only the adrenaline, but there's very few moments where you really get that type of feeling that I've had. Opening day at home last year, pitching in the Olympics. There's maybe a handful of times when I've had that type of feeling, and Friday is going to be another one of those. I think more than anything, that's what I'm looking forward to.''

Showalter said Jason Hammel, obtained in the Guthrie trade, would start the third game of the season. He would not reveal the rest of the rotation.

Tagged: Rockies, Orioles, Jake Arrieta

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