Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Opener: 12 Days
Jake Arrieta is among the group of pitchers scheduled Sunday to throw a bullpen session. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner met with the beat writers Saturday for the first time this spring. And Arrieta’s on the same page with Joe Maddon and the Cubs’ brass when it comes to his workload this spring and throughout the season.
The Cubs are well aware of the significant jump in innings Arrieta had last season. While Jon Lester and John Lackey will be backed off early in Spring Training, Maddon admitted Saturday that Arrieta “requires the most attention” coming off his career-high in innings pitched and starts. Arrieta admitted again Saturday that he ran out of gas in the playoffs. Arrieta was noticeably off in the NLDS and NLCS.
Arrieta “agrees completely with the club’s decision to delay his first spring start” according to the Tribune and is also “okay with being pulled sooner than normal in certain regular-season situations in an effort to preserve his strength and effectiveness.” Arrieta explained he is not going to back off, just be “more intelligent about the latter part of the game” when the Cubs have the lead.
Arrieta led the National League in complete games last season. While the stats look good, Arrieta has his eye on the bigger prize. And he’s on board with the Cubs monitoring things “early to preserve for October.”
Arrieta told the beat writers, “Going eight or nine innings looks good on paper, but a ring looks a little bit better at the end of November. There’s certain sacrifices that need to be made and I’m more than willing to make those sacrifices to be better for my team later in the season.”
Joe Maddon was asked if Arrieta would get the ball on Opening Day. Maddon is not ready to make an announcement he would like to talk to the players first. But Maddon did say “you can draw your own conclusions.”
David Ross met with the beat writers Saturday and confirmed that this season will be his last. Ross will retire at the end of what he’s hoping is a very successful year for the Cubs.
“This isn’t about me. There’s so much good going on around here. I don’t think it ever should be about the backup catcher retiring that’s a career .220 hitter. If it’s about me, we’re in trouble. I feel like I need to prepare myself so I don’t feel like I’m the weak link on this team. I want to be a guy that contributes to this team. I want to have the best year I possibly can to fit in with this group that’s super talented.”
Ross is keeping a daily journal of his final year in the majors.
Ross reiterated it’s time to walk away from the game as a player. Ross would like to stay in baseball in some capacity. Teams should lineup to give Ross a coaching job. And many within the game think David Ross will be a big league manager one day.
News and Notes from Day Two of Cubs Camp
• Rick Sutcliffe and Ted Lilly were in Cubs’ camp on Saturday. Sutcliffe returned for his fifth straight Spring Training at the invitation of Theo Epstein and the baseball ops department. Sutcliffe tweeted Saturday after watching several of the pitchers throw, “Four years ago Cubs President Theo Epstein invited me to Spring Training. After watching Day 1 bullpen session I wanted to throw up. So bad. So did he. After watching today’s session I didn’t see one mound that didn’t have a quality arm on it!! #Cubs #keepitsimple”
• According to the Sun-Times, part of Joe Maddon’s first-day message to the players: “We have not won a World Series in a century so there’s nothing to get complacent of cocky about.”
• Maddon said Saturday: “We’re really good. The only threat to us is us.”
• Mark Gonzales posted video of John Lackey, Jon Lester and Travis Wood working on pickoffs to first base … click here for the video.
• Miguel Montero caught John Lackey’s bullpen on Saturday according to Mark Gonzales. Kyle Schwarber was behind the plate for Adam Warren and Willson Contreras caught Eric Jokisch. And it really goes without saying, David Ross was paired with Jon Lester for Saturday’s bullpen.
• Maddon told Mark Gonzales he was “eager to see top catching prospect Willson Contreras, especially after watching videotapes during a staff meeting.” Maddon said, “He’s really dripping with potential.”
• Aaron Crow is not expected to be able to pitch until at least June as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. He worked on his delivery Saturday during the bullpen sessions and threw long toss.
• ESPN Chicago: Newcomers John Lackey, Adam Warren take the mound … with info on Ryan Williams, Willson Contreras, Neil Ramirez. Maddon doesn’t think Contreras is far off and is looking forward to seeing him in games.
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to the Tribune, Miguel Montero is preparing for adjusting role with the Cubs.
• Theo Epstein doesn’t like the word ‘tanking’ according to the Sun-Times. Epstein prefers ‘long-term planning’ or ‘medium-term planning.’ The Sun-Times reported with several teams in the NL not planning on being competitive this season they are clearing a path for the Cubs by following their blueprint.
• The Red Sox changed Carlos Marmol’s arm slot … here’s a very short video.
• And speaking of former Cubs’ relievers, RHP Tommy Hunter might be sidelined until mid-May according to a report from Hardball Talk.
• Aroldis Chapman could face a Spring Training ban as well as missing time at the start of the regular season for domestic violence incident according to the New York Daily News.
• Joel Sherman reported tanking, qualifying offers are chilling Major League Baseball. And Sherman made suggestions on how to fix both issues.
• The Rangers are one of the teams believed to be interested in Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson. According to Jerry Crasnick, Jon Daniels has discussed bringing back OF Drew Stubbs, but it would likely be a minor league deal with a NRI.
And last, but not least, click here for a photo of Joe Maddon on his bike at the Cubs’ complex.
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs traded Chris Carpenter to the Red Sox as part of the compensation for Theo Epstein and a PTNBL. The Cubs sent RHP Aaron Kurcz to the Red Sox on March 15 and received Jair Bogaerts from the Red Sox on March 29 to complete the transaction/trade.
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Alex Cintron
1981 – Tsuyoshi Wada, born
1981 – Adam Greenberg, born
1958 – Alan Trammell, born
1937 – Ted Savage, born
1880 – Joe Hughes, born