MESA, Ariz. - The Cubs announced their pitching rotation for the beginning portion of Cactus League games Monday.
The Cubs open their spring slate Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers and will give Travis Wood the ball to start (followed by Kyle Hendricks in that game).
Pierce Johnson takes the hill Friday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with Trevor Cahill Saturday (Cincinnati Reds) and Adam Warren Sunday (Arizona Diamondbacks).
Wood, Warren and Cahill are projected to start the season in the Cubs' bullpen, but could push likely fifth-starter Hendricks for a rotation spot or simply provide depth in case of an injury.
The Cubs haven't announced a specific date for the first starts for Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey, but look for the veteran trio to start making their 2016 spring debuts late next week sometime.
The Cubs designed the rotation with a mind to keep all three starters fresh longer into the season, especially Arrieta.
Manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Chris Bosio have already spoken with Arrieta about ensuring he has enough bullets left late in the regular season and into the playoffs with the Cubs eyeing a run at the World Series.
Lester, 32, has made at least 31 starts in every season for eight straight years, but did throw 219 innings last season including the playoffs.
Lackey is 37 and accounted for 228.1 innings last year, including two starts against the Cubs in the National League Division Series.
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Even though Arrieta, Lester and Lackey are getting a later start on things, the Cubs have no concerns about their prepartion for Opening Day.
"By the time they get to the opening bell, they'll be ready and hopefully they'll be well," Maddon said.
Maddon wouldn't commit to Arrieta as his Opening Day starter, but it would be a shock if the reigning NL Cy Young winner did not get the ball in Game 1.
Maddon did admit anybody could "surmise" who the Cubs' first three starters in the regular season will be, with Arrieta, Lester and Lackey as the likely order as it sits right now.