Jake Arrieta turned to sports psychologist amid struggles

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Jake Arrieta is back with the Orioles following a midseason demotion to Triple-A and the 26-year-old right-hander told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that his struggles led to consulting a sports psychologist.

Arrieta started on Opening Day for the Orioles, but posted a 6.26 ERA in 18 total starts and then continued to get knocked around in the minors. Then in early August he called sports psychologist and former MLB pitcher Don Carman.

I had so much clutter in my mind, I just had so many thoughts racing through my mind at one time that it was so hard for me to put all of that aside and just pitch. You never know what it’s going to be that helps you click. But talking to Don was one of those things.

Connolly notes that Arrieta had a 1.82 ERA in his final four starts at Triple-A, racking up 31 strikeouts in 25 innings. Just one of his 128 career appearances in the minors and majors have come as a reliever, but for now Arrieta will pitch out of the Orioles’ bullpen.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.