Cubs' Jake Arrieta exits with blister, says he'll be ready for opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Despite leaving Thursday's spring start against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning with a blister on his thumb, NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta says it's a minor ailment and he'll be ready for Opening Day on April 4.

"[We] noticed in the bullpen I was having a hard time with it," Arrieta said after giving up five runs in the first inning of the Cubs' 16-14 win. "No point in staying out there and having the same thing happen over and over again to each hitter."

Arrieta blamed the dry Arizona climate for the blister on his thumb Thursday and for one last week as well. He said he used super glue to cover it, but the glue caused the ball to slip out of his hand. The Giants got to him for four hits, two walks and a wild pitch before manager Joe Maddon had seen enough. Arrieta lasted just 1/3 of an inning.

"It was tender, and the skin was starting to come apart again," Arrieta said. "It's from the dryness out here.

"Everything was slipping off my thumb. Couldn't really finish or get the good rotation on my breaking stuff. It's really not that bad."

Maddon said the team will know more about Arrieta's status in a couple of days.

"I don't think it's anything awful," he said. "I've had guys with blisters before. Sometimes you have to back off them for a couple days to give it a chance to heal up."

The Cubs righty showed his thumb to reporters, highlighting an indentation -- but not a serious cut or opening. He said he'll have to adjust his workload going forward, as Thursday, when he threw just 34 pitches, was supposed to be his longest start of the spring. Now he'll increase his pitch count between starts and then again in his final Cactus League game Tuesday.

"If I hadn't been built up arm strength-wise, maybe it would be an issue," Arrieta said of his short day. "Next time out, I'll be 80-plus [pitches]. As far as getting built up, I'll be fine."

Arrieta said that if he threw 10 to 15 more pitches, the blister would have opened up and the injury could have been more serious. He also said he often has dry skin and asked for suggestions to stay moisturized. He said the Cubs' training staff has something that will cover the blister next time but keep his grip like he needs.

"Something that won't be slippery like the super glue," he said. "I have dry skin everywhere. It's been a battle to keep it in a position to not open again."

Arrieta took the slight setback in stride. He was more disappointed in leaving a nationally televised game against a marquee opponent and pitcher in Madison Bumgarner.

"There's no harm in getting a light breather today," he said. "Start healing process now."

Arrieta is scheduled to open the Cubs' season against the Los Angeles Angels after winning the National League Cy Young Award last year behind a great second half that included an ERA of 0.75, the lowest post-All-Star break figure in baseball history for a qualified starter.