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In return to Wrigley, Arrieta recalls 'special' ride

Special to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- It was expected that when Jake Arrieta returned to Wrigley Field, the park he called home for 4 1/2 seasons, emotions would follow. Those emotions were fueled by the fact that Arrieta won a National League Cy Young Award, threw two no-hitters and won a World Series while with the Cubs.

"I'm really looking forward to playing another game in this ballpark, even if it's in this dugout," said Arrieta, who signed a three-year, $75 million deal with the Phillies before this season. "I talked about it throughout my career as a Cub, just how special this place is."

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CHICAGO -- It was expected that when Jake Arrieta returned to Wrigley Field, the park he called home for 4 1/2 seasons, emotions would follow. Those emotions were fueled by the fact that Arrieta won a National League Cy Young Award, threw two no-hitters and won a World Series while with the Cubs.

"I'm really looking forward to playing another game in this ballpark, even if it's in this dugout," said Arrieta, who signed a three-year, $75 million deal with the Phillies before this season. "I talked about it throughout my career as a Cub, just how special this place is."

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Arrieta was swarmed in the visitors' dugout by photographers and reporters from both Chicago and Philadelphia as he reminisced about the days he spent pitching at Wrigley Field, his career accomplishments and what it has felt like to move on to a new franchise.

"You can't understand it completely until you play here, until you come to this ballpark every day and you see the passion from the fans," said Arrieta, whose contributions to the Cubs were celebrated in a video tribute at Wrigley during the first inning on Tuesday. After the tribute, Arrieta took the field and tipped his cap to fans.

Video: PHI@CHC: Arrieta thanks Cubs fans prior to game

"All the way around the organization, everybody was here to win. That was the ultimate goal. To have achieved that goal, and looking back on how much hard work it took from everybody involved, it's just exceptional what we were able to create. I'm looking forward to reliving some of those memories through the players, through my former teammates -- just memories that come up from past experiences I was able to have here."

The Phillies spent their off-day on Monday in Chicago, and Arrieta said he made the rounds with both the city itself and his friends.

"It's really nice to come back here," Arrieta said. "I spent a nice day off walking around in Millennium Park. I went to one of our favorite dinner spots, spent some time with people we used to see quite often. I look forward to a great series. Just being in this ballpark is really special."

Arrieta missed pitching in this series by one day, but he still plans on having fun with his former teammates from the visitors' dugout.

"Anthony Rizzo sent me a text that said, 'Man, I can't believe you're ducking the Cubbies,' and I said, 'I'm just trying to help you guys catch the Brewers.'

"I'll be up there maybe throwing some stuff at the boys, kind of just cutting it up with these guys, just enjoying the couple days that we're here, making my rounds to see everybody, give some hugs and hopefully win a series."

Arrieta spoke about making the transition to Philadelphia and how, as thankful as he is to the Cubs organization and its fans, he feels that he made the right choice by signing with the Phillies.

"I knew there was always an opportunity to come back here until that contract was signed with another team," Arrieta said. "It was a very chaotic offseason for everybody involved. It seemed like there could have been a possibility [to return], but the time it all went down, I was leaning more and more to the side of not returning to Chicago. That's just the way it worked out.

"Would it have been great if I signed here? Yes. Am I happy with the way things worked out, ultimately signing with the Phillies? Absolutely. Sometimes things change in this game. A lot of guys wear different uniforms throughout their career, and this is just happens to be one of those occasions."

Catherine Garcia is a contributor to MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Jake Arrieta