Jake Arrieta rounding into form with regular season approaching

Arrieta allowed one run and four hits in four innings against Cleveland, striking out five.

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MESA, Ariz. — Cubs manager David Ross said he was expecting right-hander Jake Arrieta to be near the top of his rotation, and Arrieta looked like that guy in his latest outing against Cleveland. Arrieta, 35, allowed one run and four hits with five strikeouts and no walks in four innings Thursday.

“I thought the ball had some real depth to it,” Ross said. “That’s the really sharp sinker. The first pitch of the game was a ball, but you could really tell the difference. [He had] more depth than run on the two-seamer. That cutter/slider had real depth to it, especially early on. I thought he kind of maybe fatigued or got a little lax there at the end where it flattened out.

“But the breaking ball looked great. He was throwing it for strikes; he was throwing it for chase. [He] tried a couple of changeups. Some of those hits were on changeups; he’s still trying to get the depth on that. But, overall, I thought that was a really nice outing for him, and there were some really positive looks at a lot of the pitches.”

Alzolay starts intrasquad B game

Right-hander Adbert Alzolay threw three scoreless innings in an intrasquad B game Friday at Sloan Park, facing 13 hitters and allowing two hits. He struck out five and walked one.

Alzolay is competing to be the Cubs’ fifth starter.

“I’ve been feeling really, really good each day,” Alzolay said. “I feel that my body is getting into a better rhythm, facing more hitters, especially more lefties. That’s exactly what I wanted — to face more lefties because I was just leaving the slider on the plate with the lefties. But today, I feel that I made a pretty good adjustment, getting my slider to the back foot against the lefties.

“My arm is in rhythm; my body is in rhythm. Just slowing the game down is a big part for me. Sometimes when I get into a situation, I try to rush. I think my last game against Kansas City, I did a pretty good job when everything happened, the [error]. I feel like I did a very good job at slowing the game down there and just focusing on the next hitter.”

Cubs trim spring roster

The Cubs made a handful of roster moves, optioning left-handers Justin Steele and Kyle Ryan and right-hander James Norwood to Class AAA Iowa and left-hander Brailyn Marquez to Class AA Tennessee.

They also reassigned right-hander Joe Biagini, outfielders Michael Hermosillo, Nick Martini and Ian Miller and catcher Jose Lobaton to minor-league camp.

The Cubs’ spring roster now stands at 38 with two weeks until the regular season begins.

Cubs 6, Athletics 1

Contreras homers again

First, it was Nico Hoerner, then Joc Pederson, but now Willson Contreras is officially the Cubs’ hottest hitter this spring. Contreras connected on his third Cactus League home run in the Cubs’ victory Friday and is 9-for-26 with a 1.259 OPS.

“Like I talked about Joc the other day, after the game, you want to bubble-wrap them and ship them up to Wrigley and say, ‘We’ll see you in a couple of weeks,’ ’’ manager David Ross said. “He’s a big part of this lineup and a big part of this team. Big leader. He has been here awhile now and is starting to get that veteran status and been in a lot of situations to lead this group to a lot of great moments.”

“I think I have the right preparation,’’ Contreras said. ‘‘That doesn’t mean that I’m gonna have success on the field, but I think I have the right mindset. I think my confidence is at a nice level. I just trust myself. I think whenever you believe in yourself, no matter what preparation you have, you’re gonna have a good chance of good results.’’

Davies rolling

Right-hander Zach Davies is quietly having a strong camp for the Cubs. He has yet to allow an earned run. Davies pitched four innings against the A’s, allowing an unearned run and four hits.

On deck

Rockies at Cubs, 3:05 p.m. Saturday, Mesa, Marquee, 670-AM, Austin Gomber vs. Trevor Williams.

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