Arrieta cleared to start on Opening Day

Right-hander successfully completes bullpen session Sunday

Arrieta cleared to start on Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. -- National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta will start on Opening Day, April 4, and not be sidelined because of a blister that forced him out of his last spring outing after one-third of an inning.

"There's nothing holding him back now," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday after watching Arrieta's bullpen session. "He's fine to pitch on Opening Day, yes."

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Arrieta threw 46 pitches Sunday, and Maddon joined pitching coach Chris Bosio to watch the session.

"It's one of the best 'pens he's thrown all year," Bosio said. "Everything went well."

Arrieta will make one more spring start Tuesday against the Athletics, and then be ready for the season opener against the Angels in Anaheim. Maddon also announced the rest of his rotation, saying lefty Jon Lester will follow Arrieta, then right-handers John Lackey, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks.

The Cubs did stretch out Trevor Cahill, Adam Warren, Clayton Richard and Travis Wood this spring, and all were considered options for the rotation. Cahill has been the super-utility pitcher, starting, pitching middle relief and also closing. Maddon said Cahill most likely would be the sub in case one of the starters has to miss a game.

Arrieta's blister has been the only real blip this spring. He exited his outing Thursday after throwing 34 pitches to seven Giants batters in one-third of an inning because he was having trouble gripping the ball. He had applied Super Glue to a small blister on his right thumb, and the glue created a slick surface. The blister never opened.

On Sunday, Arrieta did his normal side session.

"He was fine, there was no restriction whatsoever, he felt great," Maddon said. "It was like it never happened. I anticipate no problems."

Usually starting pitchers are backed off pitch count-wise in the last spring outing, and Maddon wanted to check with Bosio as to how much Arrieta will throw Tuesday. The right-hander has made three Cactus League starts so far and pitched in a Minor League game, but did not start a spring game until March 9. The Cubs want him fresh late in the season.

"The guy's in wonderful shape," Maddon said. "The one thing we've been trying to do is restrict what he's been doing anyway, so maybe this is one of those built-ins you take advantage of."

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.