Jake Arrieta shakes off butterflies in first spring start
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Don’t tell Jake Arrieta that it’s only spring training.
As he made his 2021 debut for the Cubs at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick against the Diamondbacks, the butterflies were definitely there.
“Got into trouble in the 1st,” Arrieta said. “Timing a little off, which is understandable — first real game in spring. Was amped up pretty good.”
Arrieta allowed a leadoff single to Josh Rojas on his first pitch of the game and then walked Ketel Marte on 5 pitches.
But Arrieta showed his moxie.
He calmed himself down and finessed his way out of the jam, inducing a popout, a flyout and a lineout without allowing a run. He retired the side in order in the 2nd inning and finished his 2-inning outing allowing just the walk and single. The Cubs dropped the spring contest 5-4.
“Getting out there today in that environment, on the road, against another team, you know starting off with two guys on base, no outs and being able to get the job done, these are all situations that are gonna arise throughout the season, so it’s nice to get em out of the way in spring training,” Arrieta said.
He was able to do all that while focusing on his mechanics. Since he signed with the Cubs, Arrieta has mentioned injuries that popped up during his time in Philadelphia that forced him to fall into bad mechanics or habits that hindered him and produced less than positive results.
While it’s unreasonable to expect any pitcher to be 100% in their first spring training outing, Arrieta was encouraged by how he performed out there.
“Just need to get the foot down a little bit earlier, arm [is] in a good spot,” Arrieta said. “But synching up that upper body, lower body connection is something that I’m gonna continue to work on over the next few weeks.”
He’s going to continue to emphasize his mechanics over his next few weeks as he works towards the regular season. That will provide him with a base to be successful this season.
“Any minor mechanical flaw will be magnified as the outing progresses, as you face a hitter for the second, third time through the order,” Arrieta said. “Those minor mistakes can lead to pretty bad results if you’re not able to kinda lock it in and keep your delivery in a spot that’s conducive to long-term success.
“So yeah, these next couple of weeks are very important to iron little flaws in the delivery, to make sure I can throw anywhere from 90 to 110 pitches with as few mechanical flaws as possible.”
- The Cubs announced they acquired minor league first baseman Shendrik Apostel from the Pirates for Duane Underwood Jr. Apostel, a 20-year-old right-handed hitter from Curaçao, hit .252 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI in 2 seasons in the Dominican Summer League in 2018-19. The Cubs had designated Underwood for assignment on March 2.
- Javy Báez returned to the Cubs lineup two days after being hit by a pitch in the forearm. Báez exited Friday’s game “out of an abundance of caution.” He was 1-for-3 with an infield single against the Diamondbacks.
- Willson Contreras hit his 1st home run of the spring, a 408-foot blast to right center field in the 1st inning. Anthony Rizzo, who hit leadoff, hit his 2nd home run of the spring, a 2-run shot to right field.