MESA, Ariz. - Jake Arrieta didn't exactly shrug off the opportunity to start Opening Day for the Cubs, but it's not like he's screaming it from the rooftops, either.
Between Joe Maddon, Jon Lester and Arrieta, the Cubs continue to pull on the same rope, projecting the same message that the April 4 starter is not as big of a deal as media or fans make it seem.
After all, the Cubs didn't even make the official announcement until March 1 - almost two weeks after pitchers and catchers reported to camp - even though the rotation features the reigning National League Cy Young winner.
"It's kinda something that maybe's made a little too much of," Arrieta said. "But it's done now and really after Opening Day, we have 161 games left to play. That's really our only concern."
The Cubs refuse to get caught up in hyping just one game when they have a World Series or bust mentality.
At the same time, Arrieta takes pride in being able to start Opening Day for the second time in his career (he also got the ball to open the 2012 season for the Baltimore Orioles).
"It's an honor, obviously," Arrieta said. "I was able to get an Opening Day start earlier in my career during a different point in my career.
"It's kind of a new chapter, not only for myself but for everybody here. We're just looking forward to the journey."
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Arrieta threw seven shutout innings for the Orioles in that 2012 opener, picking up the win in the process.
He feels like he can draw from that experience a bit, even if 2016's Game 1 is a completely different situation.
"There are some things I'll use from that," Arrieta said. "Some things I'll use from many other experiences like playoff atmospheres, just to kind of really hold that adrenaline at bay and use it when I need it.
"That's really the biggest thing there is just to keep your emotions in check and be able to kinda control your breathing and your heart rate and not let things speed up on you too much."
Lester got the Opening Day nod for the Cubs last year - his debut with the team - in front of a raucous Wrigley Field crowd against the rival St. Louis Cardinals in a nationally-televised game that opened the season for all of baseball. Talk about adrenaline.
With the opener coming on the road against the Angels in Los Angeles this year, Arrieta admits that may help him stay a little more even-keeled.
But the soon-to-be-30-year-old starter also dropped one of his favorite phrases, saying it's "business as usual" once he steps between the lines, regardless of where the game is being played.
Arrieta said his body feels great and his arm strength is "exceptionally good" after a season in which he threw 248.2 innings including playoffs. The Cubs plan on easing Arrieta into the season with an eye on saving some bullets for September and October.
"He's throwing really well already," Maddon said. "Like 'I'm gonna pick up where I left off' kinda thing. Having said all that, [we] still wanna monitor it."
Between Arrieta, Lester and John Lackey, the Cubs conceivably could have chosen any one of the three to start Opening Day, but Arrieta was the obvious choice after putting up the best second half in the history of baseball and taking home the game's most coveted pitching award.
"Somebody's gotta start that game," Arrieta said. "It just so happens to be me. ... It's nice to be in that role, but I don't put a whole lot of weight into it.
"We're gonna need five guys [in the rotation] from start to finish to try to get to where we're trying to go and we all know where that is."