Jake Arrieta joined Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth during The Leadoff Spot (MLB Network Radio) the Wednesday before the Cubs Convention.
Jake Arrieta is looking to follow up his break though season in the Cubs revamped rotation. Arrieta was very good a year ago for a last place team after spending the first month of the season rehabbing in the minors. Arrieta picked up in 2014 where he left off after the trade to the Cubs in July 2013 and provided results that many were waiting for when he was in Baltimore.
With Jon Lester on board, if all goes as planned Jake Arrieta will follow Lester in Joe Maddon’s rotation when the season begins.
Jake Arrieta discussed pitching, the Cubs off-season, the excitement surrounding the team and what he thinks the difference has been in his performance with Phillips and Hollandsworth.
On his level of excitement just before the convention about the changes the Cubs made in the off-season
“It’s always a fun time of year. Around this time, guys are gone for a little while everybody is kind of knee deep into their off-season as the convention approaches you start to get that feeling back in your stomach of towing the rubber or stepping into the box, whatever it might be. The butterflies start churning and it’s always a fun time of year for me.”
“They [Joe Maddon and Jon Lester] are both very exciting pieces to add to the organization obviously. I was able to see firsthand what Joe did with Tampa, you know playing against them for several years. Kind of watching him and Buck [Showalter] go back and forth with moves, kind of seeing the way their minds work was pretty special to be a part of those guys. And with Lester, his resume obviously speaks for itself. He’s done some tremendous things in the game. Anytime, say there is a day we’re not playing, there is a handful of guys I will stop and watch, Lester being one of them. If he’s on I’m definitely going to sit down and watch him pitch.”
“I think that a lot of guys go through kind of what I did. There are a lot of guys going through it right now. We have some guys that I’ve seen in our organization who has kind of had similar things going on. It really boils down to trying to simplify things as much as you possibly can because once you step in between the lines if you have too many things in between the ears going on, reminding yourself of too many things, certain things that aren’t necessarily as important as just focusing on executing each pitch individually and winning each pitch, things are going to start to go awry for you. I was too focused on the mechanical side of it and am I going to have a job after this start? Is this going to happen? Is that going to happen? Rather than saying, ‘Okay I’ve got [Derek] Jeter in the box; I need to get this fastball down and away.’ Those are the kind of things that need to be running through your head out there rather than is my job still going to be mine after this start? What’s going to happen? Those are tough thoughts for players to have but it’s very common. I still see it mainly in a lot of young players. Even guys that have been around awhile have struggles like that.”
On why he pitched so well at Wrigley Field last year
“I don’t know if there’s a lot of merit to any of that, home/road. For me, I think that my two bad starts were on the road, that might inflate the numbers a little bit on the road. I had a rough one in Colorado and then I had one in Cincinnati, I think I gave up six in four innings, or whatever it was. You take those two out I don’t know if the numbers are maybe even or a little closer. I always have relished pitching at Wrigley. One main reason is because you come out to warm up, especially for a day game at 11 o’clock or whatever it might be to get stretching in, and the fans are already rowdy and having a good time and showing the support a couple of hours before the game. And that kind of gets my adrenaline going. I have a feeling the ballpark is going to be even more exemplified this year based on everything surrounding our team. Wrigley is just an awesome place to pitch.”
On Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio
“Bos [Chris Bosio] is great. I think that he is starting to … if he had a good reputation before, which I’m sure he did, it’s only being bolstered now by the things he’s been able to do, not only with me but with a bunch of guys. I’ve watched him work with Kyle Hendricks, with Edwin [Jackson] on certain things, with Travis Wood. A bunch of guys have been able to utilize certain things that he offers and incorporate that into their game and be better for it. On the other side, Bos, he’s just a great guy to be around too. He’s very positive. He’s got a dry sense of humor which I really enjoy. It’s always fun to come to the yard every day and see what Bos has got to say also.”
On the buzz the Cubs prospects are receiving on the national level and as a teammate does he share the same enthusiasm and excitement?
“I think if we are being honest, I don’t get excited about it really. What excites me is seeing those guys develop and mature and I know that it’s a process and it takes time. I know the fans and everybody does kind of over-play it and hype it up, which is fine, but I’ve always been in the mindset of just let these guys come up here and let them play and let them get comfortable. Then they will in time develop and mature and turn into very solid big league players.”
On what it was like carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning three different times last year and at what point did he start thinking about throwing a no-hitter?
“Well as far as a thought goes I think it’s something that you are kind of aware of throughout the entire game. I think maybe a little bit more thought goes in to it once you creep into the fifth, sixth, seventh inning. It’s hard to really, it’s hard not to think about it. I mean it’s something that you wanted. I mean it’s something I wanted to do and dreamed about as a kid. You watch baseball movies. You see all of the special things in baseball history. You want to be a part of it as a kid growing up. It’s hard to put in to words really, but I didn’t really even get to reflect on all of it that much until after the season when my friends and family are watching highlights. My wife she has a certain highlight that she likes to watch over and over and over and it really gets her excited for the season. And seeing that game again in Boston where I got pretty close, it reminds me how special it was.”
On what he’s heard about Joe Maddon and if he’s ready for the first themed road trip
“I’ve been waiting for those kind of trips for a long time, that’s right up my alley. I think me and Joe are going to get along great. I live in Austin. I’m pretty laid back, low-key. I like to go to dinner in t-shirts. I’m pretty sure he’s the same way. I think a lot of guys will benefit from being around that type of personality. It’s really going to be, right from jump-street the first day of Spring Training, we are all in store for a very fun season.”
On the one thing he would tell Jon Lester on transitioning from the American League to the National League
“Get your bunts down. Get your bunts down. Rounding second for that triple, I think in my second to last start, maybe not try and leg out a triple if you’ve got a double that was a pretty easy double. Get a bunt down and stay at second.”
On the Cubs two new catchers, Miguel Montero and David Ross, and the relationship that has to occur
“I think that’s something that happens in Spring Training really. [Miguel] Montero is a guy who has been around for a long time, same with David Ross, there is a lot of familiarity there with Lester. I watched a lot of Lester’s starts last year and the way that those guys worked together, that’s obviously going to transition nicely for us. I’m sure that I will get on the same page with those guys probably within the first week or two of camp. I’m sure they’ve watched video on me. I know what they like to do. I like the way they both setup. I’m pretty sure we’ve both been doing our homework and that’s just something from day one I want it to be as seamless as possible and I’m sure those guys do as well.”
On if he’s closed his eyes and dreamed about winning a World Series with the Cubs
“When I’m on the verge of puking and working out, cussing my trainer, that’s when I think about things like that. It’s something to stay hungry for. We all know what the ultimate goal is and that’s why I prepare myself the way I do in the off-season.”