Opening Day start just tip of iceberg for Arrieta

NL Cy Young Award winner honored by nod, but focused on big picture

Opening Day start just tip of iceberg for Arrieta

MESA, Ariz. -- Jake Arrieta was honored to be named the Cubs' Opening Day starter, but he downplayed the assignment.

"After Opening Day, we have 161 games left to play, and that's our concern," Arrieta said Wednesday. "It is an honor, obviously. I was able to get an Opening Day start early in my career, during a different point in my career. It's kind of a new chapter not only for myself, but everybody here. We're looking forward to the journey.

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"We're going to need five guys from start to finish to get to where we want to go, and we all know where that is."

On Tuesday, manager Joe Maddon officially named the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner as the Cubs' Opening Day starter for the April 4 game against the Angels. It will be Arrieta's second such assignment; he was the Orioles' Opening Day starter in '12.

Arrieta will make his first Cactus League start next week, most likely March 9 against the Indians, but the right-hander said if the Cubs' season started now, he'd be ready.

"The only thing I need to work on now is refining secondary stuff, and the emphasis is always commanding the fastball," he said. "I'm in a good spot. ... If the season started today, I'd be ready to go."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for 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.