Cubs

Cubs ace Jake Arrieta feels ready for 250 innings this season

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Cubs ace Jake Arrieta feels ready for 250 innings this season

MESA, Ariz. – Jake Arrieta is a reigning Cy Young Award winner, the Opening Day starter for the most talked-about team in baseball. The Cubs aren’t used to being the hunted, but that’s exactly what they are now, ready to take everyone’s best shot once they leave the Arizona sunshine.

“Well, I think I got everyone’s best shot last year, too,” Arrieta said. “Obviously, teams are going to want to beat us. Just like we want to beat them. I don’t think that’s going to change much.”   

Dressed in a tank top and his eyes shielded by sunglasses, Arrieta had his Terminator look going when he met with reporters after throwing four crisp innings during Monday’s 10-2 loss to the San Diego Padres at Sloan Park.

At Arrieta’s side stood his son, Cooper, who helped pour champagne into his mouth during that raucous wild-card celebration at PNC Park, creating a memorable snapshot from a complete-game shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Last year is over, but that won’t stop questions about 248-plus innings and what it means in 2016. Arrieta shut down his throwing program for a few weeks this offseason, allowing his body to recover and resetting his mind for an encore performance.

“Once I jumped into my training and started playing catch, it was back to normal,” Arrieta said. “The fatigue is just one of those things that you can’t necessarily account for. That innings jump was difficult. (But) I had to just deal with it by going through some fatigue at the end.

“Now, I’ve obviously bounced back and I’m in better shape than I ever have been. And I’m ready for another 250.”

[MORE: Could Kris Bryant be a free agent in 2020?]

Until last year’s breakthrough, Arrieta hadn’t completed a wire-to-wire season in the big leagues, maxing out at almost 157 innings in 2014. But he had no problem carrying himself like a top-of-the-rotation guy, which gave the clubhouse so much confidence on the days he pitched.

In front of 15,318 in Mesa, Arrieta struck out five of the 15 hitters he faced, allowing one run on two hits and two walks. Once a bubble player with the Baltimore Orioles, he can now focus on details like pitching from the stretch and sharpening his timing and tempo.

The Cubs will keep Arrieta in a controlled environment for his next start, lining him up for a minor-league game instead of having him face the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night in Goodyear.

From there, it’s only 16 days until Arrieta will be staring down Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels in Southern California.

“The arm strength is going to jump up a tic once the bright lights are on,” Arrieta said. “That’s kind of the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what we’re all looking for right now – getting through it healthy and getting our pitchers built up.

“We’ll be ready.”

Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki

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USA TODAY

Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki

According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are one of the teams interested in free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The 5-time All-Star will be holding a workout soon, with Chicago being one of the six teams reported to have a scout present at his workout.

Heyman did mention that while the Cubs aren’t necessarily the favorites right now, we will know how good of a chance they will have soon. Tulowitzki and his team are reported to be narrowing down their list to (at least) 6 teams.

Last season Tulowitzki played 66 games for the Blue Jays, batting .249 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI. For his career he is a .290 hitter and is looking for a bounce-back season after dealing with complications from bone spur injuries in both heels over the years.

Toronto has to pay the $38 million left on Tulowitzki's contract, freeing up other teams to sign the veteran to a more reasonable deal. Since the Blue Jays went the route of cutting him, teams can offer Tulowitzki a league minimum salary.

For the Cubs, he represents-however small-a chance to extract great value from a veteran player, which would be a big bonus considering how the Yu Darvish signing backfired in year one.

Tulowitzki is likely to be searching for playing time on a legit title contender, so if he can provide any solid offensive production going forward, he and the Cubs could be a solid match.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

When nothing happens in Vegas, it stays in Vegas. Luke, Kap and Tony talk about the Cubs lack of moves during the Winter Meetings.

In this episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast with Luke Stuckmeyer, David Kaplan and Tony Andracki:

00:10 - What happen in Vegas stays in Vegas and this year that means nothing. Luke, Kap & Tony talk Cubs lack of moves at Winter Meetings.

00:50 - Where the heck is all the money? This was supposed to be a wide-open window - we step on the accelerator.

01:25 - Cubs keep throwing money at the problem (Chatwood, Darvish) and it has become a cautionary tale.

02:50 - Are the Cubs playing at the shallow end of the kiddie pool?

03:50 - Tony talks about the volatility of the relief market.

05:15 - Where is the bullpen market? Brewers are making moves, but it's still "crickets" for the Cubs.

06:20 - Tony: Other than bullpen - Cubs have to address backup middle infielder most of all.

06:57 - Daniel Descalso rumors. Kap describes him as a grinder who fits the leadership mold.

07:47 - Luke is a little worried about Steve Cishek. He threw a career-high 70 innings last season.

09:34 - The guys talk about the possibility of a "second deadline" for the Winter Meetings to force clubs to make more moves.

11:06 - Luke: "I wanted to see Machado and Harper walking down the strip and making it rain!"

12:45 - Cubs still have so much to address. Some Cubs fans are starting to get a little itchy. Teams in the division are making moves. What about us?

14:45 - Question: Is Anthony Rizzo the third-best 1st baseman in the Central Division?

15:50 - Prediction time: What's biggest move the Cubs will make before opening day? Kap believes that Ian Happ will not be a Cub before the regular season starts.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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