Rondon hopes to be ready to pitch in Classic

Rondon hopes to be ready to pitch in Classic

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs right-hander Hector Rondon was named to Team Venezuela's roster for the World Baseball Classic, but he may not pitch if he doesn't feel ready when play begins in early March.

Rondon talked to manager Joe Maddon and Cubs officials on Wednesday, and received the go-ahead. But Rondon also missed about one month last season because of a strained right triceps.

"He knows he has our blessing to [pitch in the event]," Maddon said. "He wants to work his way through the first part of camp and figure out for himself whether he's ready or not to do it at that time, which is a very mature approach on his part. There's no reason to accelerate, coming off an injury last year. Why would he ever want to jeopardize his season based on that?

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"I thought he had a really mature mental approach to it," Maddon said. "We'll just let it play out and he'll know whether he's able to do it or not."

Venezuela's first game will be March 10 against Puerto Rico at Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico.

"I want to be there," Rondon said. "I have to throw a couple bullpens to see where I am."

Swinging into action: Jason Heyward, who batted .230 last season in his first year with the Cubs, spent the majority of his offseason at the team's complex in Mesa, working on his swing with hitting coaches John Mallee and Eric Hinske. Maddon received video updates on Heyward, and he had yet to see the outfielder in person. Maddon does like the early reports.

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"I've had several conversations with Jason, and he just seems like he's in such a good place," Maddon said. "We talked about him all last year, and I was so impressed with him as a person and as a baseball player. I know he fought through a lot of anguishing moments.

"He's such a good self evaluator," Maddon said. "He figured it out. He knew he had to do something differently. It's hard to do that during the course of the season. It's hard to make adjustments on the fly during the Major League season."

Tattoo you: Remember when Jake Arrieta and Tommy La Stella made a friendly wager over their respective schools when they faced off in the College World Series last year? La Stella's Coastal Carolina team beat Arrieta's TCU squad, which meant Arrieta had to get a tattoo of the CCU logo.

A man of his word, Arrieta honored the bet in December, and revealed the tattoo on Twitter. But it wasn't clear exactly where the logo was located. On Wednesday, Arrieta showed it off. He now has "CCU" on his right butt cheek.

"I felt it was a good spot for it," Arrieta said.

La Stella was in Austin, Texas, with Arrieta when he had the tattoo done.

"I said, 'While you're here, we might as well get it done,'" Arrieta said.

Getting with the program: Right-handers Conor Mullee and Fernando Rodriguez will be on different throwing programs this spring as they continue rehab from injuries. Mullee missed time last season with the Yankees because of a nerve issue in his hand. Rodriguez is coming back from a lat injury.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.