Arrieta accepts Cubs' plan to keep him fresh

Ace to take it easy in spring, may not finish games in season to maximize stamina

Arrieta accepts Cubs' plan to keep him fresh

MESA, Ariz. -- Now that Jake Arrieta has pitched into October, the right-hander knows how important it is to be strong at the end of the season, which is why he's accepted the Cubs' plan to hold him back a bit in Spring Training.

Arrieta went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA to win the National League Cy Young Award last season, and he finished with 248 2/3 innings in the regular season and postseason combined. That's nearly 100 more innings than he totaled in 2014.

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The goal is to be "proactive" in-season regarding game situations, and Arrieta may not finish games so he can stay fresh, manager Joe Maddon said Saturday.

"He gets it now," Maddon said. "Guys like him who have never been through it before, you pretty much feel like you're invincible and you can do anything. At least now he's had the experience of understanding what it feels like to be in that position, and he knows first-hand. My job should be somewhat easier to harness him a bit in regard to different moments in the season."

Said Arrieta: "[Going deep in games] looks good on paper, but a ring looks a little better at the end of November."

The right-hander, who totaled a career-high four complete games, including his first no-hitter, said his mindset has always been to finish what he started.

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"Looking back on it, towards the end of the season, my last two starts specifically, I had a noticeable point there where I could tell I was a little out of gas," he said.

Arrieta went 5 2/3 innings and then five innings in his final two postseason starts in Game 3 of the NL Division Series and Game 2 of the NL Championship Series, respectively. Of course, Arrieta is willing to accept being held back now. Will he be that agreeable in July?

"It's more about the team than anything individual, whether it's me or [Jon] Lester or Anthony Rizzo," Arrieta said. "It's a collective mindset, and I think it's obvious, even this early in camp, is that all we care about is winning."

Arrieta allowed himself to take a couple of weeks off at the end of the extended season, and then got back to work prepping for this year. The highlight of the offseason, he said, was the Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner in snowy New York when he was officially presented the Cy Young trophy.

Arrieta accepts Cy Young Award

He's got some things to work on this year. Arrieta wants to be better at holding runners on, varying his looks and times to the plate. He also recognizes last season was a magical one, especially his 0.75 ERA in the second half.

"It seems the way the game is going, I don't know if that mark will ever be trumped, but time will tell," he said.

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.