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Spring Training 2021: La Russa And White Sox Have High Hopes, Jake Arrieta Back With Cubs

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It was report day or pitchers and catchers for Spring Training Wednesday at both Cubs and White Sox camp in Arizona.

The optimism was high at White Sox camp, where there were a lot of new faces – including new manager Tony La Russa, who also served as White Sox manager from 1979 until 1986.

La Russa will have a bolstered pitching staff that includes new high-priced closer Liam Hendriks. White Sox brass are not backing away from saying this team is ready to compete for a championship in his first year with the club.

"I think you have to confront the reality that we have a real chance, and if you try to sidestep it, what happens? You know, you don't get serious with all the work that has to be done. It may surprise you at some point. The pressure is there," La Russa said. "So I think it's really important that we recognize that we have a chance to be really good."

"The goal is to win a World Series championship, and if we were to fall short of that goal, we'd certainly want to look back and try to figure out why; what factors influenced us falling short," said White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn. But of all days, especially on the first day of camp – not to mention, you know, what we've all been through for the last several years preparing to get to this point, I think having championship aspirations is to be expected, and to a man, what people want."

Wednesday was report day for pitchers and catchers at Cubs camp in Mesa as well. David Ross is starting year two as manager with a new-look squad that includes questions in the starting rotation.

Zach Davies came over in the Yu Darvish deal, and Jake Arrieta is back after three injury-plagued and frankly disappointing years with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cubs are hopeful Arietta regain some of that great form he had in 2015 and 2016.

"I think Jake feels like he's got something to prove you know, I think he is really comfortable here in his Cubs uniform. It's got a longstanding history. I know him – he's trying to get back to that version or as close as he can to that," Ross said.

"I just saw him in here two days ago in the locker room, and we both kind of said it was weird, you know, it was like no time ever passed. It was like I don't know where those three years went, but it was almost like he never left. Having some young guys that don't necessarily have the experience, he's a great guy to lean on," said Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks. "I mean, that's basically what I had, you know, when I came up, I learned so much from him."

Another former Cub is back. Pedro Strop has a minor-league deal. The team is also expected to sign former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman.

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