CHICAGO — Jake Arrieta hasn’t been with the Chicago Cubs for almost two years, but Monday night was his first time pitching at Wrigley Field since signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.
When he came to the plate in the third inning, Arrieta received a standing ovation from Cubs fans. He responded by tipping his helmet toward the crowd while Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish stepped away from the mound.
“It felt great,” Arrieta said. “Kind of something that I experienced pretty much from Day 1 here with the fan base. Cubs fans all across the country, all across the world, they really respect and appreciate what guys are able to do here for them. It means a lot. It really does. I’ll never forget this city, the fan base, the organization and everything that they did for me. It was 4 1/2 incredible years of my career.”
It was a fitting reception for a pitcher who played such a huge role in turning those “Lovable Losers” into drought-busting champions. Arrieta left to sign with Philadelphia before the 2018 season. But the mark he left in Chicago won’t fade anytime soon.
“I loved it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I absolutely loved it. Very happy that our fans — which you would expect from our fans — would acknowledge him like that. … Jake deserved it. Absolutely.”
“It brings back a lot of memories of what we were able to do as a team, from beginning in ’13 all the way through ’17,” Arrieta said.