Arrieta returns to Wrigley Field, in a good place
Neither Jake Arrieta nor Yu Darvish will pitch in this week's series between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field.
Arrieta, the former Cubs ace was making a "homecoming" of sorts after he signed with the Phillies late in the off-season. It just so happens that the schedule had him pitching this past Sunday at San Francisco.
As for Darvish, he remains on the disabled list for the second time this year as he battles triceps tendinitis.
Naturally, many Cubs fans and those in the Chicago media want to draw comparisons. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, in so many words, give it time and that juxtapositions are unfair.
"Yeah, just give it some time," he said Tuesday. "Right now I'm really happy for Jake. I cannot be happier for Jake. He hit a home run the other day in San Francisco. Beyond that, we would not have done what we did over the last few years without him. He's in a good place right now. He's doing extremely well.
"People have a tendency to jump to conclusions in this game, and in life in general. Just give it time. Hopefully they're going to have the same kind of numbers after the next three or four years. I'm a big Jake fan. But, yes, it's way too early to jump to conclusions."
With his new team, Arrieta is 5-3 with a 2.66 ERA. Darvish is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA.
Arrieta was surrounded by Chicago media members in the visiting dugout Tuesday afternoon. A Cub from the middle of 2013 through the end of last season, he compiled a record of 68-31 with an ERA of 2.73. Included were two no-hitters.
Arrieta also pitched the Cubs to victory in the 2015 wild-card game and went 2-0 in the 2016 World Series to help the Cubs quench a 108-year drought.
The Cubs saluted Arrieta with a video tribute at the start of the second inning, and the fans gave him a warm ovation.
"I talked about it throughout my career as a Cub, just how special this place really is," he said. "I guess 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. All around the organization everyone was geared 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, just exceptional what we were able to create."
Arrieta said he bears no hard feelings toward the Cubs. He hugged Maddon and several teammates during batting practice. There wasn't much in the way of negotiation between Arrieta and the Cubs until late in the off-season, and then the Cubs signed Darvish on the eve of spring training.
"I knew that there was an opportunity to come back here until that contract was signed with another team," he said. "It was a very chaotic off-season for free agents, not only for myself but for everybody involved. When Theo (Cubs team president Epstein) did call, it seemed like it could be a possibility.
"The way it all went down, I was leaning more and more to the side of probably 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."
The Cubs do have Arrieta to thank for helping to change the course of the franchise's history.
After he went 22-6 during the 2015 season, he tossed a complete-game shutout over the Pirates in the wild-card game at Pittsburgh. If the Cubs don't win that game, they don't get a chance to play the St. Louis Cardinals and beat them in the division series and move on to play the New York Mets in the championship series.
The loss in the NLCS fueled the hunger that led to the 2016 world championship.
"There was a lot riding on that game," Arrieta said of the wild-card victory. "The confidence level that I had at that point in time and to be in a position to win a game for my team of that magnitude was really special. I knew that was an opportunity for me to capitalize on a moment in this ballclub's history, and I wanted to make sure I did that.
"An incredible victory for us as a team and as an organization. And a big one for history."