Arrieta returns to Wrigley with good memories, no regrets
CHICAGO (AP) — Jake Arrieta returned to Wrigley Field in a Phillies uniform on Tuesday with no regrets, except perhaps not having the opportunity to face the Cubs during the three-game series.
"It would have been really, really cool to get out on that mound again," said Arrieta, who spent 4 ½ seasons in Chicago before signing a three-year, $75 million contract with Philadelphia in the offseason.
He started on Sunday in San Francisco and isn't scheduled to pitch again until this weekend against Milwaukee.
"Really, just being in this ballpark and just watching the game from this closely and having the fans right on top of you . it's hard to put into words how cool it really is," Arrieta said.
The Cubs were also disappointed they wouldn't get to face Arrieta in Philadelphia's only trip to Chicago this season.
"I think he deserves to pitch here again," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I think the fans would go pretty crazy watching him play here again. It just didn't work out that way."
The 32-year-old Arrieta went 68-31 in the regular season with the Cubs, including a 22-6 mark in 2015 when he won the NL Cy Young Award. He was 5-3 with a 3.08 ERA in nine postseason starts and earned a reputation as a big-game pitcher.
He was looking for a five- or six-year deal in the offseason, and the Cubs appeared unlikely to make that kind of commitment to him. Arrieta said he and his wife, Brittany, were mentally prepared to move on.
"Brittany and I were pretty confident that we wouldn't be back here," he said. "That wasn't necessarily because we didn't want to. We just thought that the opportunity to come back to Chicago wasn't what we once thought it was."
Arrieta missed the first few weeks of spring training this season and is 5-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 11 starts.
The Cubs ended up signing free agent Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million contract in February. The 31-year-old Darvish has struggled, going 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts, and is currently on the disabled list with right triceps tendinitis.
"He's a tremendous pitcher. There's no question about that," Arrieta said. "I know he's gone though some struggles, some tough times. He's been put in a difficult situation. I know he probably has his head down and he's focused on getting himself healthy so he can be out there for these guys.
"I hope he does perform well for these guys."