MESA, Ariz. -- Jake Arrieta, slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder, threw three innings in a simulated game on Wednesday, and he was confident it won't be long before he can join the Cubs' rotation.
"I'm progressively getting stronger and more and more comfortable every time out," Arrieta said after the workout. "Today was a reminder of where I will be in the next couple weeks. Health is good, body strong.
"I was glad to get that up and down three times out of the way and go from here," he said. "We'll see how I respond tomorrow. I anticipate some soreness but to feel normal after an outing. I'm very, very pleased with it today."
With off-days in the first couple weeks of the season, the Cubs could decide to go with four pitchers -- Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Jason Hammel and Travis Wood -- and use Carlos Villanueva as the fifth starter when needed. Villanueva is versatile enough to be a swingman and go to the bullpen between outings.
Arrieta's next step will be a side session, either this weekend when the Cubs wrap up exhibition games in Arizona, or in Pittsburgh, where the team opens the season.
"It's been a good progression," Arrieta said. "Overall, just feeling the way I do is a good sign."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.