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Arrieta ready to throw off mound

MESA, Ariz. -- Ailing Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta says he’s ahead of schedule and ready to throw off a mound. Arrieta, acquired last season from Baltimore, was shut down at the beginning of spring training due to offseason “shoulder stiffness.”

“We’ve moved forward at a quicker pace then we initially had drawn up which is good,” Arrieta said Sunday morning.

Arrieta says his shoulder feels fine; he’ll play “long toss” Sunday, then pitch off the mound, though he may not throw the full 60 feet, 6 inches. He’ll move his catcher up in front of the plate.

“I want to start to feel that angle a little bit,” he said. “Everything is really good.”

With the regular season about a month away, Arrieta was asked if he still could be ready for Opening Day.

“I still don’t think it’s out of the question to be ready but we’re going to be smart about it,” Arrieta responded. “That’s the most important thing.”

Arrieta posted a 3.66 ERA for the Cubs last season in nine starts. He’s expected to be the Cubs No. 4 or 5 starter.