Arrieta and Mickolio

Jake Arrieta showed up today with a neatly trimmed beard that will be gone tomorrow.

Arrieta has thrown about 12 bullpen sessions since Jan. 4. He'll try to squeeze into the rotation, perhaps bumping Chris Tillman from the fifth spot. Assuming Brad Bergesen avoids the disabled list, that would be Arrieta's best shot.

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"Whether there's an opening or not, I have to do everything I can to come out here and perform to the best of my ability and be confident in myself that all the hard work I've done in the off-season will pay off and give me the best chance that I can give myself to make a spot on this team. And I feel like I'm definitely capable of doing so," he said. "It's just a matter of going out there and performing like I know I can and show them I'm ready to be on this team."

Arrieta went 6-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 11 starts at Double-A Bowie, striking out 70 in 59 innings. He was the only pitcher in the Eastern League to notch two shutouts.

Arrieta's performance at Triple-A Norfolk was uneven. He finished 5-8 with a 3.93 ERA in 17 starts. The Tides honored him as their Pitcher of the Month for August after he posted a 3.03 ERA and struck out 27 in 35 2/3 innings.

"I think it was a big learning process for me," he said. "I think there were a lot of positives to last season. I did really well in Double-A, and at times I was really good at Triple-A. A lot of my starts, I'd get to the fifth, sixth, seventh inning and then give up four runs. It wasn't that my stuff wasn't good enough. I was pitching well. It's just that one big inning that I had trouble avoiding.

"It's just a matter of making adjustments. And looking back, I think I'm capable of making those adjustments. I'm ready to go forward."

Kam Mickolio threw a bullpen session at the minor league complex earlier today and said his elbow is 100 percent.

"I've thrown about 10 bullpens and everything is perfect," he said.

Mickolio was placed on the disabled list in September, and eventually shut down, with inflammation in his right biceps tendon.

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