Notes: Rotation order; Arrieta's upward trend

March 23rd, 2021

Much has been made this spring about the similarities that exist between the Cubs' rotation arms. thinks maybe a little too much has been made of it, especially when it comes to the order in which the starters should be arranged.

"I definitely think it is overplayed," Hendricks said on Tuesday. "At the end of the day, if you make good pitches, you're going to get good hitters out. That's my philosophy."

Prior to the Cubs' 3-1 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday, Hendricks was named the Cubs' Opening Day starter by manager David Ross. As things currently stand, veteran looks lined up to be Chicago's No. 2 arm, with and next in the order.

That has been the order throughout Spring Training, with looking like the leading candidate for the fifth spot. is also in that mix, along with veteran , though they (along with Mills) could also wind up in a kind of starting-relieving hybrid role.

The rotation order has not been finalized, but Ross agreed that more may have been made of it than actually matters. There are similarities to be sure (Hendricks, Davies and Mills sit in the 87-90 mph range with their fastballs), but also enough differences in individual repertoires.

"I think, in my mind, we think we need to kind of separate it," Ross said. "But I don't know that factually or the data would back that up. ... I think more gets made of that. If everybody on our staff threw 98 with a nasty slider, would we say the same thing? I don't know that we would.

"I think just more gets made of that, because our guys don't throw as hard as probably what is expected in our league right now. But I don't see a problem with that. If you execute pitches, you're going to get people out."

Arrieta keeps building
Ross said the most important thing for Arrieta in Tuesday's start was just continuing to build up his pitch count ahead of Opening Day. The veteran righty logged 87 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, ending with three strikeouts, no walks and one run allowed on five hits.

"I feel like he's gotten better every time he's taken the bump," Ross said. "I think each start we've seen it trending the way we expected. The areas that we've pointed out that are keys for him have continued to kind of fall into place as he's worked on them."

Worth noting
• Righty (intercostal) threw a light bullpen session on Monday, but there remains no announced timetable for his return and the reliever is still expected to open the season on the injured list. That said, the Cubs have been encouraged by Wick's progress over the past two weeks.

"It's definitely exciting," Ross said. "I think the trainers are relieved. When you kind of have the unknown and you're trying to check everything out and can't find out exactly what's bothering him, and then you pinpoint it, I think everybody's just relieved to know that he's on the right path.

"[Now it's] being able to build him up and make sure he feels good to help us out. He's a big piece to our bullpen when he's healthy."

remains firmly in the hunt for the Opening Day job at second base, but Ross noted that the versatile infielder will be a big part of the mix no matter how that situation shakes out.

"He's very much in the mix at second base," Ross said. "And he's a guy that I've already talked to and knows that, no matter what the role is, he's going to play a big part on this team in some capacity. It's nice to have a guy like David on your team."

• Marquee Sports Network announced Tuesday that Hall of Famer will join the fold as a multi-platform analyst. Sandberg will contribute to select spring and regular-season broadcasts, pre- and postgame shows, interview shows, podcasts and more.

"Not everybody's opportunity comes when they first come to the big leagues. Everybody's path and journey is different. And David's been in that boat. What I've seen from David this spring is nothing but who he is. I mean, this guy's a good at-bat. He's a power hitter -- gets the ball in the air. He's got real power to all fields. He plays great defense. He's very versatile." -- Ross, on Bote

Up next
Right-hander is scheduled to start for the Cubs on Wednesday, when the Mariners host the North Siders at 8:40 p.m. CT in Peoria, Ariz. In Cactus League play, Davies has allowed no earned runs through nine innings pitched (three starts).