PITTSBURGH -- Orioles pitcher Jake Arrieta acknowledged on Wednesday morning that the "physical problem" he referenced after Monday's five-inning start is right elbow inflammation related to the pre-existing bone spur he has in that area.
Arrieta, who opted against surgically removing the spur this offseason, said that he's not overly concerned at this point and that the elbow issue only flares up intermittently.
"There's a period there where I won't be sore or have any issues for a month, a month and a half, you know, and [then for] two or three starts, it will kind of creep up a little bit," said Arrieta, who was also slowed in a five-inning start in Chicago on April 29. "But it's just a matter of maintaining it and kind of keeping it at a level where I can go out there and still perform."
"It's something that's manageable, we hope," added Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "It's something that he can pitch with and through. You don't like it, but we're aware of it. We'll take some precautions where we can with it."
Those precautions include giving Arrieta -- who has been doing daily treatment -- extra rest when necessary. Given that the team has off-days on both Thursday and Monday, Arrieta's next start, tentatively penciled in for Wednesday against St. Louis, could be pushed back further depending on how he feels.
"As of now, I feel like I will be able to make my next start with no issue," Arrieta said. "Last time I had this was in Chicago, and [I] was able to get the job done. I battled. [It was a] very similar start to two nights ago here in Pittsburgh. If I'm able to give that and a little bit more, which I can, then I'll take it."
While Arrieta originally planned to get the spur removed in the offseason, he got a second opinion and chose to leave it in there, because he's pitched with it his entire life. Asked if this inflammation is a result of not getting the surgery as first prescribed, Showalter didn't want to pin it on that.
"It wasn't advised," Showalter said. "He got a second opinion. Believe me, I know all the history of what they say that he can do and what the precautions are. I know what the considerations are. Down the road, we'll see. Right now, it is what it is.
"If he continues down the road that he is, he should be able to make all his starts through the rest of the year. We'll see. We'll keep an eye on it, and if we have to, we'll back off."
Arrieta is 9-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 starts, though he labored through Monday's five-inning outing. The 25-year-old right-hander looked physically drained and showcased a dip in velocity in his final few innings before being lifted. Arrieta was charged with three earned runs on three hits and two walks in the 87-pitch start.
Russell to keep role as bench coach
PITTSBURGH -- When asked on Tuesday if the switch in roles for John Russell -- from third-base coach to bench coach -- would be something more permanent beyond the series vs. the Pirates, Orioles manager Buck Showalter left that door open.
On Wednesday, Russell confirmed that he would remain the bench coach for the majority of the season, telling the Pirates' pregame show that it's what's best for the team. Willie Randolph, who started the season as bench coach, has been the third-base coach for the three-game set in Pittsburgh. Showalter gave a multitude of reasons for the switch, including Russell's knee problems and his familiarity with the Pirates.
"It fits with where we are right now a little better," Showalter said on Tuesday, "and takes advantage of the needs of the players a little better."
Davis makes long awaited big league debut
PITTSBURGH -- Orioles rookie Blake Davis made his first career Major League start on Wednesday afternoon, batting eighth and playing second base. And while the 27-year-old isn't a top prospect, manager Buck Showalter didn't try to de-emphasize the magnitude of the moment.
"It's special for him," Showalter said. "It's been a long road for him, and I'm proud of him. He never gave in, and he's getting a reward for his work. I talked to our guys at Triple-A -- the coordinators -- and they thought he was worthy of the opportunity. We wanted to get Ryan [Adams] playing every day.
"I'm proud of him, regardless of what happens. Step back for a second and realize that he's 27, and he's been grinding it. He was having a good year down there, playing all over the place for them."
Davis, who didn't receive a big league Spring Training invite, had his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday. He hit .284 (52-for-183) with five home runs and 24 RBIs in 49 games at Norfolk. A versatile left-handed bat, Davis can play shortstop, second base and outfield.
Davis went 0-4 with a strikeout in the debut, and made a costly error in the fifth inning when he let a ground ball go through his legs. The miscue allowed the tying and eventual winning run to score.
As expected, Orioles top prospect Manny Machado was promoted to Class A Frederick on Wednesday.
The team's rotation for the weekend series against the Reds will consist of Chris Jakubauskas, Brian Matusz and Jeremy Guthrie.
With a second-inning double on Wednesday, Mark Reynolds has hits in 12 of his last 14 games.
Arrieta's nine wins ties him for the American League lead. No Orioles pitcher recorded their ninth win last season until Jeremy Guthrie did so on September 4.
An unexpected All-Star candidate? Reliever Jim Johnson, who is drawing some interest with his impressive first half of the season.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.