Countdown to Opening Night: 4 days
According to multiple reports, Jon Lester said he’s ready for Opening Night after completing his last spring tune-up Tuesday afternoon. Lester built his arm strength and pitch count in a minor league game.
Lester threw 13 pitches in the first inning Tuesday, 11 for strikes, and broke two bats. It reportedly took him 31 pitches, 25 for strikes, to complete two frames. The beat writers thought he was done after the fifth inning. Lester threw 81 pitches at that point. But he went back out and faced two more batters.
Based on several reports, Lester threw 84 pitches to 21 batters Tuesday and touched 93 mph on the gun. The Sun-Times reported he sat in the 90-92 mph range.
Jon Lester will face Adam Wainwright Sunday night even though Lester said “he may not be at his very best in his first start for his new team.” He was not happy with the way he pitched Tuesday but thinks the adrenaline from Opening Night and the crowd will help “sharpen” things up. Lester will be on a pitch count limit Sunday night, under 100 pitches.
The Cubs could announce Wednesday the order of the team’s rotation. Joe Maddon said Tuesday they need to “get some real clarity” in that area.
Jake Arrieta tweeted the following to Kris Bryant on Tuesday night: “Kris Bryant a cog in a large machine, an instrumental part of our success as an organization. This man WILL be one of the best players in the game. Stay the course … WE WILL have a spot waiting. Bottom line. We’ve got the power, we’ve got the speed.”
Jake Arrieta told Patrick Mooney that he sees both sides of the Kris Bryant debate.
David Ross and Jason Hammel talked to ESPN Chicago about Bryant and the business side of baseball. And none of his soon-to-be teammates thinks Bryant will “be sulking in Triple-A” they actually think he will use the demotion as more motivation.
And when asked about Kris Bryant being sent out, Jon Lester said, “It sucks. The quicker you can learn this game is a business, the better off you are. They can say development, development, development all they want but this game is a business and it comes down to that.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to Mark Gonzales, Phil Coke “credited former minor league pitcher Dominick Johnson for cleaning up his mechanics this winter.” Coke is happy he signed with the Cubs. The veteran lefty confirmed Ken Rosenthal’s report that he opted out of his minor league contract Friday. The Cubs had 72 hours to respond. Coke told Carrie Muskat, “They took their time, they made the decisions they wanted to make, and I’m still here, and I’m happy about it.”
• It’s unlikely that Kris Bryant or Javier Baez will play in Wednesday’s Cactus League finale or Friday night’s game at Chase Field, but Joe Maddon said both Bryant and Baez could play in Saturday afternoon’s exhibition game against the Diamondbacks.
• Jon Lester and his family had a “pretty seamless transition” to Spring Training in Arizona according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
• The average salary in Major League Baseball is going to top $4 million per year according to a report from the Associated Press/ESPN.
• According to the Sun-Times, Mike Olt might not surrender third base so quickly when Kris Bryant’s ready. Joe Maddon “likes what he’s seen from Olt at bat and in the field.” Maddon explained his “job is to get Mike Olt to stay there all season and play a lot, somehow.”
• Ash Marshall posted a Cubs prospect primer.
• Jon Heyman updated the Boston Buzz … and the Red Sox appear to favor depth in the outfield right now oppose to trading players like Allen Craig or Daniel Nava.
• According to Hardball Talk citing the New York Times as its source, Baseball is working to get Spanish-speaking interpreters for every team.
And, last, but certainly not least, Don Zimmer’s lessons continue to inspire Joe Maddon according to Carrie Muskat. As the report points out, there are a lot of similarities with the way Joe Maddon manages to the way Don Zimmer called the shots for the Cubs. Those that missed the news, Joe Maddon is having a “’72 Chevelle tricked out in Cubs blue, with a white interior and red inlays in the seats. The trunk will be carpeted in red and a have a [Cubs] 1908 logo.” Maddon calls it his Cub mobile.
This Day In Cubstory
2005 – Cubs sent Danny Klassen to the Astros
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Ben Grieve
2004 – Cubs sent Santiago Perez to the Rangers
2004 – Twins sent Kevin Tolar to the Cubs
2004 – Cubs released Scott McClain
1994 – Cubs released Alan Newman
1991 – Cubs released Dave Clark
1986 – Cubs released Richie Hebner
1985 – Cubs released Ray Soff
1983 – Cubs traded a PTBNL and cash to the Brewers for Steve Lake. The Cubs sent Rich Buonantony to the Brewers on October 24, 1983 to complete the trade.
1982 – Cubs released Rawly Eastwick and Ken Reitz
1980 – Cubs purchased Lenny Randle from the Mariners
1974 – Cubs released Milt Pappas
1969 – Frank Castillo, born
1961 – Cubs acquired Jim McAnany from the Angels for Lou Johnson
1950 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Gene Baker
1942 – Jake Jaekel, born
1941 – Cubs released Rabbit Warstler
1896 – Reds purchased Ace Stewart from the Colts
1894 – Hal Reilly, born