Arrieta exits early vs. Giants with blister

Cubs' Opening Day starter doesn't expect to miss next spring outing

Arrieta exits early vs. Giants with blister

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Blame the dryness in Arizona for Jake Arrieta's early exit Thursday.

The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner was expected to throw 80 to 90 pitches against the Giants and had even applied Super Glue on his hand, but he lasted one-third of an inning in a 16-14 victory over the Giants because of a blister on his right thumb. Arrieta called the problem "frustrating" but added that it's a minor nuisance.

"It's really not that bad," said Arrieta, scheduled to start Opening Day on April 4 against the Angels. "It's something I need to give a few days, let the skin harden around it, and try to get that thing out of there. Physically, everything's fine."

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Arrieta was matched up against the Giants and Madison Bumgarner, and the Cubs right-hander retired the first batter, then gave up four straight hits, threw a run-scoring wild pitch and walked two, including Brandon Crawford with the bases loaded to force in a run.

Manager Joe Maddon went out to check on Arrieta before Crawford's at-bat, and Arrieta then threw three straight balls. Once Crawford walked, that was it. Arrieta gave up five runs on four hits and two walks in the abbreviated start.

"It was the right move," Arrieta said of being pulled. "There's no point in staying out there and having the same thing happen over and over to each hitter. We'll let it heal and go from there."

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Maddon said there is plenty of time if the Cubs need to make an adjustment regarding the rotation and Opening Day.

"We don't want to lose him, we don't want to miss him, but I don't think it's anything awful," Maddon said. "I've had guys with blisters before and sometimes you have to back off a couple days to give it a chance to heal up and then be proactive in the healing process. Overall, I'm not hyper-concerned now. It's one of those things to monitor and give it a little rest to get it on its healing ways."

About a week ago, Arrieta was bothered by a blister that was higher up on his right thumb. He has been treating his thumb the past week with lotions, pickle juice, paraffin wax and any other remedy suggested. The problem with the Super Glue application Thursday was that it made his thumb slick, and he couldn't get a grip on the ball.

"Everything was slipping off my thumb," Arrieta said. "I really couldn't finish or get the good rotation on my breaking stuff."

What's next? Arrieta said he'll stick to his routine and expected to make his next spring start Tuesday against the Athletics.

"A big part of the problem is the environment," Arrieta said. "Arizona being so dry, I have dry skin everywhere. It's been a battle to keep it in a position where nothing opens up again. I think we have a good plan moving forward."

Arrieta's thumb was tender Thursday, but not painful.

"I knew I could've been 10 to 15 pitches from maybe opening [the blister] again," Arrieta said. "It rubs against the seam and that's how the first one got to where it was because of the friction from the laces on the ball over and over and over to continue to pry it open slightly. This is in a stage where I didn't allow it to get to that point, so that's a positive. In two days, I'll be able to handle a bullpen without any problem and then two more days after that, I'll be able to throw fine."

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.