Arrieta closing in on return to Cubs' rotation

Arrieta closing in on return to Cubs' rotation

CHICAGO -- As of now, Carlos Villanueva stays in the Cubs' rotation, but Jake Arrieta is getting close to returning to the big league team.

Arrieta, who was slowed this spring with tightness in his right shoulder, made his fourth Minor League rehab start on Monday, pitching for Class A Daytona, and gave up five runs -- three earned -- on five hits, including three homers, over 5 2/3 innings. Arrieta struck out seven, including the last two batters he faced in the sixth. He has made three starts for Double-A Tennessee, but the Cubs wanted Arrieta pitching in warm weather and to go about 100 pitches on Monday.

Will a start at Class A be enough to prep Arrieta for the big leagues?

"I think the intensity level that everybody has when they're down on rehabs, everybody's different," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "Some guys don't think about it too much and just focus on what they're doing. Some guys see it as kind of being lax because it's a different arena.

"In his case, he's a guy who goes out there and knows he has to command and stay clean in his delivery and hit his spots," Renteria said. "It might be a little different for pitchers than position players."

Renteria said they won't know if Arrieta will need another rehab start after Monday until they see how he responds from the outing.

Villanueva is 1-2 with a 10.66 ERA in three starts, and will go to the bullpen when Arrieta returns.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for 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.