It's highly doubtful Jake Arrieta will return vs. Cardinals, says Joe Maddon

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Working on right hamstring strain, Jake Arrieta has yet to throw a bullpen session, which is essential to test right leg

The possibility of returning in time to face the rival this weekend appears highly doubtful.

"We're running out of time for this time at this time," manager said after Arrieta played catch Tuesday for the second time since suffering a Grade 1 right hamstring strain on Sept. 4.

"Absolutely. Maybe the next time through. I really don't know. I'm planning like he won't."

Arrieta has yet to throw a bullpen session, which is essential because he needs to test his right leg while pushing off the mound.

This could mean that left-hander and Kyle Hendricks could pitch the final two games of the Cardinals series, although the haven't announced their rotation past Friday, when John Lackey starts.

Dempster's defense: Cubs special assistant Ryan Dempster, who pitched in three postseasons and won a 2013 ring with the , defended the effort and performance of the players under close scrutiny as defending World Series champion label.

"The minute that last out is being made, there are people going to bed thinking about getting up and working out the next day to try to knock you off your perch as a champion, and I think that's why it's really, really hard to repeat.

"That's what's so impressive when you see what the Yankees did in those years. Hungry is not the word, because these guys are hungry. The constant grind of playing and playing deep into the year and everybody chasing you, everybody wants to knock them off.

Dempster added that it wasn't fair to assume the players achieving career years in 2016 at an early age would be even better.

"It's just the nature of the beast," he said.

Extra innings: Maddon is under the impression the Cubs would play the at Tropicana Field next week despite Hurricane Irma knocking out power at his Tampa restaurant and at the offseason home of bench coach Dave Martinez. ... The Cubs will open the 2018 season with game at Miami (March 29-April 1), Cincinnati (April 2-3) and Milwaukee (April 5-8) before their home opener on April 9 against the .

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