BALTIMORE, JUNE 9 -- The Baltimore Orioles sent rookie left-hander Jeff Ballard back to the minor leagues today and recalled right-handed reliever Tony Arnold as they continue to try to strengthen a troubled pitching staff.

In sending Ballard to Class AAA Rochester, where he started the season, the Orioles were careful to say all the right things, that they still believe he'll pitch in the big leagues and that his problems are more mental than physical.

"He was to the point where he'd lost all his confidence," Manager Cal Ripken Sr. said. "I think when he gave up those three home runs in Oakland it had an effect on him. He became afraid to throw the ball over the plate, and what he needs to do now is pitch regularly and relax a little bit."

Ballard leaves with a 2-3 record and 6.21 ERA, completing the sixth inning twice in seven starts. He was at his best in winning back-to-back starts May 19 and 24.

In three starts since, he is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA, and in 12 innings, has allowed 17 hits, 12 walks and nine earned runs.

Ballard, who has been a professional for only two years, took the news well, saying, "I'm not really surprised. I was hoping for one more outing. I can't say I don't deserve {the demotion}. I haven't pitched well. It's probably the best thing as far as my career, to get down where I was throwing the same way so when I get back here I'll do it the same way."

Arnold is to report Wednesday.