Cubs

Cubs: Jake Arrieta's blister could become a real issue by Opening Day

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Cubs: Jake Arrieta's blister could become a real issue by Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. – As confident as Jake Arrieta sounds, Cubs manager Joe Maddon still can’t guarantee that the Cy Young Award winner will be ready for Opening Day.

“I don’t know that yet, quite frankly,” Maddon said Friday at the Sloan Park complex, the morning after Arrieta left his prime-time start with a blister on his right thumb. “I would say that he needs to get a legitimate amount of stretching out between now and that moment for us to feel comfortable with it.”

Arrieta covered it in Neosporin overnight, disappointed he only threw 34 pitches against the San Francisco Giants and had to leave a national-TV game in the middle of the first inning at Scottsdale Stadium, the best atmosphere in the Cactus League.

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Arrieta planned to throw a bullpen session on Saturday, at which point there will only be nine days left until the season opener at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.  

“Blisters can be funny,” Maddon said. “Right now, we haven’t called off the jam yet. But you want to look at it, I would say, after maybe another day or two (and) then try to make our best determination at that point.

“You don’t want it to be chronic. They can become more chronic. And you don’t want that to happen. 

“Opening Day starter is always very prestigious. However, so is winning the World Series. And you definitely want to make the right call.” 

[MORE: Heyward vs. Bumgarner: After all the hype, Cubs know they are a target]

Arrieta had trouble applying pressure to his pitches and finishing off his breaking stuff against the first seven hitters in San Francisco’s lineup, giving up four hits and two walks and getting charged with five runs.      

Coming off an unbelievable year (22-6, 1.77 ERA) that saw him throw almost 250 innings, Arrieta is now so important to the Cubs and their championship hopes that pretty much anything to do with his health is newsworthy.

“I understand it,” Arrieta said. “But at the same time, it’s really not an issue. That was just a precaution yesterday. There’s no reason to kind of stay out there and allow it to potentially open up.

“It’s in a good place. We’re in a good spot.”  

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: If Cubs somehow miss the playoffs will Joe Maddon's seat start heating up?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: If Cubs somehow miss the playoffs will Joe Maddon's seat start heating up?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Friedell (ESPN.com) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join David Kaplan on the panel.

The guys discuss Welington Castillo’s 80-game PED suspension, the Cubs struggles and if Joe Maddon could be on the hot seat if the Cubs somehow miss the playoffs in 2018.

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