Joe Maddon announced the Cubs starting rotation for the early Cactus League games that begin Thursday versus the Brewers in Maryvale.
Maddon said over the weekend LHP Travis Wood and RHP Kyle Hendricks will pitch in the first Cactus League game against the Brewers. RHP Pierce Johnson gets the start in the Cubs spring home opener Friday. RHP Trevor Cahill starts Saturday and RHP Adam Warren will make the start Sunday.
After Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks in the opener Thursday against the Brewers, Maddon has Pierce Johnson setup to start against the Angels on Friday at Sloan Park. Trevor Cahill faces the Reds on Saturday at Sloan Park.
The first weekend of exhibition games wrap up with Adam Warren taking on the Diamondbacks on Sunday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jason Hammel will not start a Cactus League game for at least the first week of games. Multiple reports indicated the earliest Arrieta, Lester, Lackey and Hammel will start is the end of next week (March 10-13). The Cubs could start using their top starters as soon as Wednesday (March 9).
The Cubs have also decided to hold back the relievers that had a heavy workload last season. That would mean Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm will likely not pitch in a spring game for at least a week.
Joe Maddon and Chris Bosio are sticking to the plan that was announced. The Cubs are backing off from the pitchers, starters and relievers, that had heavy workloads or exceeded career highs in innings last season.
Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren are reportedly competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill are being stretched out in order to fill what could be a valuable utility role in the bullpen. Warren could begin the year in the bullpen, having at least four pitchers stretched out as starters will only benefit the Cubs early in the season.