Jake Arrieta made his final spring start Tuesday before Opening Day on Monday night against the Angels. Arrieta settled down after a shaky start and made 102 pitches, 61 for strikes, in five innings.
Arrieta said he is ready for Opening Day but admitted he “wasn’t as sharp” as he would have liked. Arrieta wore a band aid on his right thumb. According to ESPN Chicago, Arrieta had “no issues whatsoever with the blister.” Comcast SportsNet noted Arrieta appeared “slightly annoyed” answering questions about it. Arrieta said, “There’s no blister anymore.”
Arrieta liked that he was able to get his pitch count up and throw all his stuff. Arrieta was not satisfied with his command and admitted he was a “off a little bit timing-wise but was able to make some good adjustments” to get back on track.
Jake Arrieta told the beat writers, “I like where I’m at going into our first game.”
Neil Ramirez will be with the Cubs on Opening Day in Anaheim. Ramirez found out Tuesday that he made the team. The Cubs decided to begin the season with a 13-man pitching staff.
Maddon admitted Tuesday that he doesn’t know if Ramirez will regain the velocity he had during his rookie season. The Cubs believe in Ramirez’s ability even without the blazing fastball that lit up radar guns.
Maddon pointed out that Ramirez has “a really good slider/breaking ball/slurve” and “even though his velocity might not be what it had been, it’s still high velocity.” Maddon said he throws in “the low-to-mid 90s on occasion.”
Maddon wants Ramirez to focus on getting the hitter out and not on the radar gun. He’s talked to Ramirez about changing his mindset this spring. Maddon believes that Ramirez “throws hard enough” the key is to “command what he throws and pop that slider.”
Matt Szczur found out during batting practice Tuesday from Joe Maddon that he made the team and would be with the Cubs on Opening Day. Szczur missed a majority of Spring Training with an oblique injury.
Szczur had a very good afternoon at Sloan Park at the plate, on the bases and in the field. Szczur went 3-for-3 with a double and a two-run homer. Szczur doubled in his first at bat, followed Addison Russell’s two-run homer in the fourth with a perfectly placed bunt single and promptly swiped second base.
Szczur cranked a home run to left in the sixth and it was not a cheap shot. Szczur’s second home run of the spring landed halfway up the berm.
In six games, Szczur is 7-for-16 with a double, two home runs and two stolen bases.
Cubs-Angels Pitching Matchups
The Angels made it official Tuesday. Garrett Richards is the team’s Opening Day starter and will face Jake Arrieta and the Cubs on Monday night. Lefty Andrew Heaney gets the ball in game two on Tuesday, April 5.
Joe Maddon will have an extra bat in his lineup both nights against the Angels. And with the two best pitchers on Mike Scioscia’s team taking the ball, the Cubs will need the extra bat.
- Monday, April 4 (9:05pm CDT) – Jake Arrieta vs. Garrett Richards
- Tuesday, April 5 (9:05pm CDT) – Jon Lester vs. Andrew Heaney
From a catching standpoint, facing a righty and then a lefty works out well for Maddon and the Cubs.
News and Notes
• With John Lackey starting Thursday in a minor league game to keep on his routine, Miguel Montero will stay in Mesa to catch his start. Lackey and Montero will catch up with their teammates in Vegas on Friday.
• The Tribune reported Anthony Rizzo has grown naturally into leadership role. Rizzo played piano for his teammates prior to Tuesday’s warmups. And Rizzo said he was not hurt after colliding with Andrew Lambo in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game. Red flags went up when Rizzo did not return to first base in the fifth. Rizzo was scheduled to come out of the game after four innings.
• John Lackey answered a few questions from Twitter for ESPN Chicago.
• The Cubs and Angels exchanged ‘playful’ tweets on Monday night. The Cubs are not making many friends in the media and other clubs are getting tired of all the attention being paid to a team that finished third in their division last season.
• Former Cubs’ prospect Rock Shoulders signed with the Joliet Slammers.
• Todd Radom reported on the changes to MLB uniforms to keep an eye on as the season begins … and his excellent report includes the patch the Cubs will wear on the home jerseys this season celebrating the 100 years of the team playing at Wrigley Field.
• RHP Jacob Turner was outrighted to the Charlotte Knights and off the White Sox 40-man roster.
• One-time Cubs’ reliever RHP Kameron Loe was suspended 80 games for PEDs. Loe tested positive for the second time after recently signing a minor league contract with the White Sox.
• The Rangers landed a catcher Tuesday. Texas acquired catcher Bryan Holaday from the Tigers for catcher Bobby Wilson and RHP Myles Jaye. The Rangers DFA’d lefty Sam Freeman.
• Nick Piecoro explained how Diamondbacks’ GM Dave Stewart and his wife are navigating a unique situation.
• The Cubs home opener against the Reds (April 11) is 12 days away. Player banners started going up Tuesday at Wrigley.
And last, but not least, Ken Rosenthal made his predictions for all 30 teams … and it’s well worth the time reading his thoughts on the upcoming season.
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – Cubs signed free agent Joel Pineiro
2013 – Cubs released Dontrelle Willis
2010 – Cubs released Kevin Millar
2009 – Cubs released Paul Bako
2009 – Cubs released Mike Stanton
2007 – Cubs released Jason Anderson
2006 – Cubs released Mark DiFelice and John Ennis
2005 – Cubs released Steve Randolph
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Nate Bland
2003 – Cubs released Trent Hubbard and Mickey Lopez
2002 – Cubs released Bryan Ward
2001 – Cubs traded Oswaldo Mairena to the Marlins for Manny Aybar
1999 – Cubs released Marc Pisciotta
1998 – Expos selected Mike Hubbard off waivers from the Cubs
1997 – Cubs signed free agent Bry Nelson
1994 – Cubs traded Jose Vizcaino to the Mets for Ottis Smith and Anthony Young
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Eric Yelding
1992 – Cubs released Jamie Moyer (Note: Moyer made the Rockies Opening Day roster on this day in 2012, the oldest starting pitcher to ever make an Opening Day roster, 49 years old)
1992 – Cubs traded George Bell to the White Sox for Ken Patterson and Sammy Sosa
1987 – Cubs traded Thad Bosley and Dave Gumpert to the Royals for Jim Sundberg
1983 – Cubs purchased Thad Bosley from the Athletics
1979 – Cubs signed free agent Jim Willoughby
1968 – Indians traded Bobby Tiefenauer to the Cubs for Rob Gardner
1966 – Cubs traded Vic Roznovsky to the Orioles for Carl Warwick
1958 – Braves purchased Dick Littlefield from the Cubs
1956 – Cubs traded Hank Sauer to the Cardinals for Pete Whisenant and $10,000
1951 – Cubs released Johnny Vander Meer
1904 – Ripper Collins, born
1897 – Ed Sicking, born
1866 – George Van Haltren, born
1857 – Tom Burns, born