The Cubs set another Spring Training attendance record as Sloan Park was packed with fans of all ages to watch Jon Lester pitch for the first time in a Cubs’ uniform. On the field, the Cubs could not hold another late-inning lead on Friday and slipped to 0-2-1 in Cactus League play. But Lester’s performance far outweighed the outcome of the exhibition game.
Jon Lester provided the highlights Friday then the sound bites after his first outing with the Cubs.
Lester said he was happy with his performance while admitting he elevated too many pitches. He felt good about his first outing of the spring.
When asked about the young players on the roster and the expectations surrounding the Cubs, Lester expects the young players to perform now and pointed out they have to grow up sometime. And if they can’t get the job done, then someone else should be given an opportunity. Lester added that expectations are for the media to write about, for players, expectations are what you make of them. Lester said every year players should come in expecting to win the division and win the World Series, if not then they are playing for wrong reasons.
From USA Today: “There’s a lot of talent here. Now it’s about executing and playing good baseball for six months. That’s why we are here. You’re expected to come in, and expected to perform. And if you’re not, exit. You can take that for what it’s worth. Expectations are so tough. But at the same time, if you’re not expecting yourself to win, why are you playing the game? I don’t show up to lose.”
Jon Lester’s next start is scheduled for Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Sloan Park.
Veteran lefty reliever Phil Coke was in the Cubs clubhouse prior to Friday’s game against the Reds. Coke was scheduled to take an MRI and once he passes the final tests, the Cubs are expected to announce signing him to a minor league contract. Coke told Carrie Muskat he met with Theo Epstein earlier this week before he picked a team and signed.
And Phil Coke is “eager” to working with Joe Maddon.
Coke told the beat writers that he worked with a coach this off-season to help get him back on track. Coke said his mechanics got away from him. He thinks he’s in a “much better place” after working with the coach. He’s repeating his delivery and throwing strikes with all of his pitches.
Coke, who is the truest definition of a left-handed pitcher, said Friday he’s never “felt really good about the title of a lefty specialist.” He doesn’t want to be pigeon holed or limited by the label.
Phil Coke thinks the Cubs are on “the brink of doing something very special” according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
According to multiple reports, Junior Lake avoided serious injury Friday and walked about with only a bruised forehead. Lake collided with Brandon Phillips as he tried to advance to second on a wild pitch. Phillips tried to catch a wild throw from catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Lake stayed on the ground for a while and was replaced by Albert Almora after he left the field under his own power. Reports have not indicated if Lake will miss any playing time.
Corey Black met with reporters Friday morning and was reportedly emotional while discussing breaking Hunter Pence’s arm. Black apologized to Hunter Pence on Twitter for what happened and plans on doing so again the next time he sees Pence. Black and Pence share the same agent.
Black told the mainstream media, “My heart goes out to him. I hope he heals quick and gets back better than ever.
Hunter Pence replied to Black’s tweet on Twitter and said, “It happens my friend. Thanks for the concern, it’s a part of the game we love. No slowing down!”
According to Bob Nightengale, Joe Maddon sympathized with Black and told him not to worry about what happened. Maddon knows Black feels bad “but it’s part of the game.”
As for his performance, Corey Black told the Sun-Times that he just had a bad outing Thursday and was a little nervous. And according to Patrick Mooney, the Cubs are very high on Black to the point he “might be able to help their bullpen at some point this season.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• Cole Hamels made his spring debut Friday against the Yankees in front of between 24-29 scouts, depending on the report, that included two scouts from the Rangers and one each from the Red Sox and Cardinals. It is unknown if the Cubs had a scout at the game. Hamels threw two scoreless innings and gave up a hit without a walk and two strikeouts. According to Hardball Talk, Ruben Amaro Jr. watched the Red Sox play the Marlins on Friday afternoon.
• The Phillies are looking for a back-up catcher for Carlos Ruiz that could play 50, 60 or 70 games. According to Jim Salisbury, the Yankees’ Austin Romine is a name to keep an eye on.
• Mike Olt is feeling good this spring according to Carrie Muskat.
• And Mike Olt and Javier Baez showed promise on the first day of the Cactus League games.
• Baseball America reported RHP Chris Carpenter signed a minor league contract with the Reds. The former Cubs’ farmhand that was part of the Theo Epstein compensation package to Boston in 2011 spent last year in Japan.
• According to Jon Heyman, the Giants “don’t seem inclined” to trade for Allen Craig, unless the Red Sox price is “oddly low.” Heyman said San Francisco is expecting Pence back around May 1.
This Day In Cubstory
2006 – Derrek Lee homered in Team USA’s first game in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Team USA topped Team Mexico 2-0 behind homers by Lee and Chipper Jones and a four-hit shutout by Jake Peavy and the pitching staff.
1995 – Richie Ashburn was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.
1979 – Hack Wilson was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Wilson set the NL record for home runs in a single season (56) in 1930 that stood until 1998. Wilson collected an All-Time Record 191 RBI in 1930.
1960 – Joe Carter, born
1953 – Randy Stein, born
1951 – Cubs traded Clarence Maddern to the Indians for Max West
1938 – Jimmie Hall, born
1933 – Ed Bouchee, born