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Arrieta in 'midseason form' despite extra innings

Resentment not allowed in crowded outfield
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta faced batters for the first time on Friday in live batting practice, and it was good.

"It was alive," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

MESA, Ariz. -- National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta faced batters for the first time on Friday in live batting practice, and it was good.

"It was alive," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Tweet from @Cubs: Cy gets his work in. #LetsGo pic.twitter.com/kw5poV6jt3

The Cubs plan to ease Arrieta into games this spring after he threw a career-high 229 regular-season innings plus 19 2/3 playoff innings last year. The right-hander's previous high was 156 2/3 innings in 2014.

"Jake's throwing really well already," Maddon said. "It's like 'I'm going to pick up where I left off' kind of thing. Having said all that, we're still going to monitor it and not let it get out of hand. He's aware not to go too crazy too quickly. He was really good today."

Catcher Miguel Montero caught Arrieta. His assessment? Montero said Arrieta was in "midseason form."

Tweet from @CarrieMuskat: Here's Cy Young winner Arrieta. #Cubs pic.twitter.com/mlN4wZDTgB

Extra bases

Javier Baez was in center with Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler was in left field with new addition Shane Victorino, and Jason Heyward was in right during outfield drills on Friday. Soler and Kyle Schwarber will be getting more time in left field with the return of Fowler, who signed a one-year contract on Thursday.

"Right now, I don't worry about my playing time," Soler said Friday. "When I get my opportunity, when I get my chance, I'll do my job and do the best I can to help the team."

Cubs sign Victorino to Minor League deal

Baez, who has primarily played shortstop in the Minors and in the big leagues, got a taste of center during winter ball. He's projected as a backup everywhere for the Cubs and is ready to go.

"As a player, I know what I can do, and him as a manager and a coach, he knows what every player can do here," Baez said of Maddon. "I'm just trying to stay healthy and go hard all year."

"He's very comfortable actually anywhere," Maddon said of Baez, who also will back up Anthony Rizzo at first if needed.

Maddon is hoping that giving Baez so much to do on defense will help him relax offensively, which is the message the manager gave Baez during their one-on-one meeting.

"It makes a lot of sense," Baez said. "I'm just ready for the games to start to see how it's going to work."

• Soler isn't the only one whose playing time will be affected with Fowler's return, but there has been no grumbling in the clubhouse.

"Long faces are not permitted here," Maddon said. "The guy who attempts to be that guy [who complains] will get met rather quickly by some people telling him that we don't do that here. I've had conversations with the group and individuals who I thought needed to be spoken to about potential adjustments and what may occur."

Fowler opts back in to Cubs' title quest

Maddon said other players will handle anyone upset by the changes.

"I feel very strongly that we have that kind of element going on," Maddon said.

• Earlier this week, shortstop Addison Russell said it felt like a "match made in heaven" after his first time turning double plays with new second baseman Ben Zobrist.

"I'm glad he feels that way -- that's great," Zobrist said.

Maddon hinted that Zobrist has worked in the past with some shortstops who were more of a challenge.

"It's harder to work with certain guys, where [Russell] has been real easy," Zobrist said. "He makes it easy on me."

Quote of the day

"Not that I know of -- yet." -- Maddon, when asked if the Cubs would have another new outfielder on Saturday after the arrival of Fowler and Victorino on consecutive days.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago Cubs, Jake Arrieta, Javier Baez, Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, Miguel Montero, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Ben Zobrist