By Bruce Levine-

MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — The Cubs got some good news on Sunday as RHP Jake Arrieta threw his first simulated game with no discomfort. Arrieta came up with a sore shoulder in the middle of February. He spent most of the last month rehabbing the arm.

Arrieta threw 35 pitches in the simulated game and is expected to do that one more time this week. If all goes well, a determination will be made on pitching in a Cactus league game or starting a program designed to get him back into the Cub rotation by mid April.

The Cubs are set with their top four starters. Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, and Jason Hammel will more than likely be the order the rotation begins in. Carlos Villanueva and James McDonald are in the mix for the 5th slot with two weeks to go before opening day. The Cubs will need a fifth starter on either April 5 or April 6 depending on weather they give opening day starter Jeff Samardzija an extra day off.

There is an outside chance that Arrieta could be ready to make that start if all goes well between now and three weeks from Monday.

“Everything felt crisp,” he said. “I wanted to throw strikes including my off speed stuff just to get the rotation down,” the pitcher said. “I am excited and feel good .Only having to miss a start or two is not a big deal.”

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