Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta working on curves, mind games

Jake Arrieta has two starts left to increase his endurance for the start of the regular season.

But for starts such as his performance Friday against a group of Los Angeles Angels' Triple-A hitters, Arrieta used the opportunity to work on specific pitches in specific situations that he plans to apply during the regular season.

In this case, Arrieta threw three first-pitch curves at varying speeds during the middle part of his start. Arrieta threw two of those three pitches for strikes, and he believes that can be an effective part of his arsenal.

"Any time a guy like myself has the ability to throw that for a first-pitch strike, even if a guy is swinging at it, chances are he’s probably not going to do a lot of damage on it," Arrieta said after striking out four, walking two and not allowing a hit until facing the 18th and final batter during his 75-pitch stint. "That's something that's put in the back of the (hitters') minds.

" 'OK he will do this. I can’t sit on the heater all the time or whatever the case might be.' So it’s another weapon to use at my disposal when the moment comes, and I’m confident that moment will come up through the season. It’s a good weapon to possess, especially at this time of year to get it ready for April."

Arrieta has big team goals but knows his next two starts will be essential for getting ready for the regular season.

"Once you get on your five-day (routine) as a starter, that's when you’re really starting to get that itch and ready to go," Arrieta said. "But I’m still looking forward to getting two to three more outings here, continuing to progress and get into that sixth, seventh inning, build some strength, be sore the next day and deal with the prep work and getting ready for the (bullpen session) with two days to get ready for that start."

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