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Levine: Jake Arrieta Good To Go For Opening Day

By Bruce Levine --

MESA, Ariz. (CBS) -- Right-hander Jake Arrieta got a clean bill of health Sunday and has been named the Opening Day starter by Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon. Dealing with a blister on his right thumb, Arrieta threw 46 pitches against minor leaguers and reported no scraping or discomfort on his thumb or throwing hand.

Arrieta will make his last spring training start Tuesday without limitations, Maddon said.

"He threw really nice," Maddon said after Arrieta's side session. "I was out there watching him, and he was fine. No restrictions whatsoever. He felt great. Nothing. It was like it never happened."

Arrieta's pitch count is the only concern going forward toward his April 4 start in Anaheim against the Angels. He had built up to 65 pitches before getting shut down last week against the Giants.

He threw 34 pitches in the first inning and got just one out before the thumb blister started to heat up. Maddon took him out before the blister broke open on his hand.

"I have to talk to Bos about that," Maddon said, referencing pitching coach Chris Bosio and the Arrieta pitch count. "Normally that is the one you back off of. The fact that you don't go deep into that game, I don't know that one yet."

Maddon has also set the rotation in stone and told his pitchers when they will start in April. After Arrieta, the rotation will follow as expected: Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks. That order would put Lester in line to pitch the home opener on April 11 against the Reds.

Trevor Cahill will be the emergency starter, while Adam Warren, Travis Wood and Clayton Richard will operate out of the bullpen. All four have starting experience.

"We talked to all of the guys," Arrieta said. "I have kept Cahill stretched out in the event were to happen. The other three guys have been told. Warren, Wood and Richard (all in bullpen)."

The reigning National League Cy Young winner, Arrieta will probably get his pitch count up to 80 to 85 in his last spring start Tuesday.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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