MESA, Ariz. – Jake Arrieta is still confident he can be part of the Opening Day rotation.
The Cubs had pushed back and rebooted Arrieta’s throwing program after the right-hander experienced shoulder “tightness” while working out during the offseason. When pitchers and catchers reported to Arizona last week, manager Rick Renteria said the team wasn’t expecting Arrieta to be ready for the start of the season.
“I don’t think that’s going to be an issue,” Arrieta said Friday at Cubs Park. “There is a plan in place, which I do like. Both sides are in agreement that’s the right way to progress. We’re just going to take it day by day. Every day’s been good. It’s gotten progressively better. If we stay on that same schedule, I’m optimistic that I could be ready for Opening Day.”
Arrieta expects to know more on Saturday after he throws off flat ground. The Cubs projected Arrieta to be their No. 5 starter, but won’t rush him because they have flexibility with Carlos Villanueva, Chris Rusin and James McDonald.
Arrieta, who turns 28 next month, flashed his potential after coming over from the Baltimore Orioles in last summer’s Scott Feldman trade. Arrieta went 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts for the Cubs.
“My body feels good,” Arrieta said. “We’re in a good spot right now once I do get off a mound, which will be soon. It doesn’t take long from there. The build-up is a little slower, for good reason, (but) we have a good timetable. Mechanically, we’ve been doing a lot of things to be prepared for side rounds, so you know it’s coming along well.”