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Spring Training 2021: Arietta On Returning To Cubs, Kopech On Absence From White Sox

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Jake Arrieta is back with the Cubs after a disappointing stint in Philadelphia, while Michael Kopech has returned to the White Sox after an extended absence.

Video Transcript

- Matt Zahn here with sports. A Cub fan favorite rejoining the North Siders.

JAKE ARRIETA: Yeah. Jake Arrieta said today that wearing number 49 again at Wrigley Field is going to be special. Cubs fans I'm sure hoping they can actually be in the stands to see that and hoping Arrieta can regain some of the form he had in his previous stint with the Cubs.

[CRACK OF THE BAT]

[THUMP]

[CHIMES]

[CHEERING]

Arrieta is back after three disappointing and injury-plagued seasons with the Phillies. He said physical issues actually caused some changes to his mechanics. He's hoping a return to the Cubs and their coaches here, including David Ross, who actually caught one of his no-hitters, will help him get back on track. He certainly feels like he has something to prove.

JAKE ARRIETA: It's really just to prove that I'm still capable of performing at a high level, the level that I expect to-- to perform at. The last three years weren't to my expectations. I had to deal with several physical setbacks-- you know, a meniscus that I pitched through all of '18, which was tough. Ultimately had to have bone spurs taken out of my elbow again. But having said that, I just didn't perform the way I was capable of.

I have a lot in the tank. I have a lot to still accomplish in this game. And I'm excited that it's going to happen in-- in this Cub uniform again.

MATT ZAHN: At Sox camp, Michael Kopech returns after not pitching in an MLB game since 2018. He was injured for the 2019 season, then opted out of last year because of COVID-19 and he says a lot of personal reasons as well, including becoming a father. Now he's so happy to be back playing baseball.

MICHAEL KOPECH: This is a team that could clearly win without me, but I want to be a part of a winning team. And you know, as long as they want me to be a part of it, that's exciting for me. And as far as the team goes, you know, they-- they respected my decision. They allowed me to, you know, spend some time getting better on myself. And then since I've been back, they've been nothing but helpful with me getting ready for the season.