clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

More than just a local legacy, George Arias Jr. has been one of Arizona’s most dependable relievers

george-arias-baseball-arizona-wildcats-tucson-pitcher-elbow-injury-comedy-pac12-2022 Arizona Athletics

George Arias Jr. has been on the Arizona baseball team for four seasons, but it wasn’t until this week that he had occasion to speak with reporters about himself, his locally famous father and his time with the Wildcats.

The Tucson native made the most of his first media scrum. He also showed that, if baseball doesn’t work out, he might have a future as a stand-up comic.

“I became a pitcher because I had too much power as a hitter, and the coaches told me, like, it was unfair to keep hitting,” said Arias, a junior right-hander and the son of former UA slugger George Arias Sr. “Obviously, I don’t want to take an advantage over everyone else, so I was like, alright, I’ll just pitch now.

“In all seriousness … hitting is so hard. I don’t want to be stressing. When I’m pitching, I’m more comfortable out there.”

Arias has been one of the UA’s most effective—and frequently used—relievers this season. He enters this weekend’s series against Oregon State with a 2-1 record and 3.52 ERA in 21 appearances over 23 innings. That’s only three fewer outings than he had in his first three seasons, nearly all of which came as a true freshman in 2019 before an elbow injury sidelined him for most of the next two years.

“He’s really developed,” UA coach Chip Hale said. “He’s worked really hard in the fall, his breaking ball has kind of elevated his fastball. He’ll get it up in the 91, 92 range, but he also elevates the location of it, which helps him.”

Sporting a full beard that is the latest iteration of his many hairstyles and facial looks—“I think hair is cool,” he said—Arias if often the first arm out of the bullpen after the starting pitcher comes out. Which makes his choice of walk-up songs (“Closing Time,” by Semisonic) all the more amusing.

“Fun fact, I always get clowned on for my music because it’s not what everybody listens to,” he said. “I’ve always liked this song, and I always thought oh, it’d be kind of cool coming out of the pen, high-leverage situations, and be able to hear that song. I don’t know, I think it’s funny.”

George Sr. played one season at the UA, 1993, hitting 23 home runs—which was the school record until Shelley Duncan hit 24 in 2001—and driving in 75 runs. He was drafted by the California Angels in the 7th round that June and spent parts of four seasons with the Angeles and San Diego Padres from 1996-99 before hitting more than 200 homers in Japan and Mexico.

George Jr. said it was never a given he’d follow his dad to the UA, but “being a local kid I think this place was meant to be.”

He made 21 relief appearances in 2019 but had a 7.63 ERA and walked 19 batters in 30.2 innings. Between then and the 2020 season he tore the top of his UCL in his right arm, as well as the flexor pronator, but rather than have surgery his doctor suggested PRP shots that would use his own plasma to help repair his damaged elbow.

“I wasn’t playing that year anyway (because of COVID shutting down the 2020 season), so try PRP, take a couple of shots, and if that didn’t work, let’s do surgery,” he said. “So we just did that. And it worked after two series of shots, and I’ve been feeling good. Everyone always asks me like, oh, how’s your elbow feeling. Honestly, I feel great. I think I do a pretty good job of keeping in shape, maintaining, especially after I throw, arm care and whatnot.”

Arias has only allowed runs in seven of 21 outings, but seven of the 12 runners he’s inherited have scored. The difference between starting a clean inning and coming in with runners on is a matter of handling the jitters, he said.

“Sometimes you just let the moment get a little too big, and I think as a reliever you just try and slow down,” he said. “In a picture perfect world everybody wants a clean ending, a little bit less stressful, especially if you come in with like one out, bases loaded. Usually, most of the times a run scores and you can’t really control it.

“But I think for me, personally, I come in with runners on I take it so personally if a runner scores. I feel like I let the guys down. It’s just more like a mindset, a bulldog mentality. You know what, you’re just gonna stay there.”

Arias is one of six players Arizona will honor during pregame Senior Night ceremonies on Saturday. He still has one more year of eligibility remaining but said the decision to come back will depend on his pro prospects. George Arias Jr. has been on the Arizona baseball team for four seasons, but it wasn’t until this week that he had occasion to speak with reporters about himself, his locally famous father and his time with the Wildcats.

The Tucson native made the most of his first media scrum. He also showed that, if baseball doesn’t work out, he might have a future as a stand-up comic.

“I became a pitcher because I had too much power as a hitter, and the coaches told me, like, it was unfair to keep hitting,” said Arias, a junior right-hander and the son of former UA slugger George Arias Sr. “Obviously, I don’t want to take an advantage over everyone else, so I was like, alright, I’ll just pitch now.

“In all seriousness … hitting is so hard. I don’t want to be stressing. When I’m pitching, I’m more comfortable out there.”

Arias has been one of the UA’s most effective—and frequently used—relievers this season. He enters this weekend’s series against Oregon State with a 2-1 record and 3.52 ERA in 21 appearances over 23 innings. That’s only three fewer outings than he had in his first three seasons, nearly all of which came as a true freshman in 2019 before an elbow injury sidelined him for most of the next two years.

“He’s really developed,” UA coach Chip Hale said. “He’s worked really hard in the fall, his breaking ball has kind of elevated his fastball. He’ll get it up in the 91, 92 range, but he also elevates the location of it, which helps him.”

Sporting a full beard that is the latest iteration of his many hairstyles and facial looks—“I think hair is cool,” he said—Arias if often the first arm out of the bullpen after the starting pitcher comes out. Which makes his choice of walk-up songs (“Closing Time,” by Semisonic) all the more amusing.

“Fun fact, I always get clowned on for my music because it’s not what everybody listens to,” he said. “I’ve always liked this song, and I always thought oh, it’d be kind of cool coming out of the pen, high-leverage situations, and be able to hear that song. I don’t know, I think it’s funny.”

George Sr. played one season at the UA, 1993, hitting 23 home runs—which was the school record until Shelley Duncan hit 24 in 2001—and driving in 75 runs. He was drafted by the California Angels in the 7th round that June and spent parts of four seasons with the Angeles and San Diego Padres from 1996-99 before hitting more than 200 homers in Japan and Mexico.

George Jr. said it was never a given he’d follow his dad to the UA, but “being a local kid I think this place was meant to be.”

He made 21 relief appearances in 2019 but had a 7.63 ERA and walked 19 batters in 30.2 innings. Between then and the 2020 season he tore the top of his UCL in his right arm, as well as the flexor pronator, but rather than have surgery his doctor suggested PRP shots that would use his own plasma to help repair his damaged elbow.

“I wasn’t playing that year anyway (because of COVID shutting down the 2020 season), so try PRP, take a couple of shots, and if that didn’t work, let’s do surgery,” he said. “So we just did that. And it worked after two series of shots, and I’ve been feeling good. Everyone always asks me like, oh, how’s your elbow feeling. Honestly, I feel great. I think I do a pretty good job of keeping in shape, maintaining, especially after I throw, arm care and whatnot.”

Arias has only allowed runs in seven of 21 outings, but seven of the 12 runners he’s inherited have scored. The difference between starting a clean inning and coming in with runners on is a matter of handling the jitters, he said.

“Sometimes you just let the moment get a little too big, and I think as a reliever you just try and slow down,” he said. “In a picture perfect world everybody wants a clean ending, a little bit less stressful, especially if you come in with like one out, bases loaded. Usually, most of the times a run scores and you can’t really control it.

“But I think for me, personally, I come in with runners on I take it so personally if a runner scores. I feel like I let the guys down. It’s just more like a mindset, a bulldog mentality. You know what, you’re just gonna stay there.”

Arias is one of six players Arizona will honor during pregame Senior Night ceremonies on Saturday. He still has one more year of eligibility remaining but said the decision to come back will depend on his pro prospects.