The Cubs announced Sunday several changes to the spring rotation, including Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta making starts in minor league games instead of Cactus League games this week.
Jake Arrieta will start Monday’s game (March 14) against the Padres at Sloan Park as scheduled. Instead of facing the Indians under the lights in Goodyear on Saturday (March 19), the Cubs have decided to have him pitch in a minor league game earlier in the day.
Jon Lester was scheduled to face the Padres in Peoria on Tuesday. The Cubs decided he could get his work in at the Cubs complex in a minor league game and not have to pitch at Peoria Sports Complex. And based on his last two appearances in Peoria, it is likely safe to say Lester will not pitch in Peoria again.
Lester had a rough start at Peoria against the Mariners last week. Lester gave up six runs, three earned, on seven hits without any walks and three strikeouts in two innings. Lester’s last appearance in a Major League Spring Training game a year ago was against the Padres in Peoria. Lester gave up six runs on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. Lester said he was dealing with a dead arm and did not appear in another Cactus League game.
The Cubs said moving Lester’s next outing to a minor league game has nothing to do with him working on his defense and throwing to bases.
Joe Maddon addressed the Lester questions with the beat writers. “You’d like to see some other guys against varsity competition. This way you can assure the fact you can stretch Lester out comfortably. It wasn’t done to get work on anything like throwing to the bases, that wasn’t the motivation. It’s to shield him from other teams seeing him. You like to shield, and the other thing is to make sure the guy gets his work in more comfortably and you can stretch him out. I understand the question about Lester but that’s not the reason.”
Cubs Spring Training Rotation
- Jake Arrieta (Monday, March 14) vs. Padres, Colin Rea at Sloan Park
- Clayton Richard (Tuesday, March 15) vs. Padres, Tyson Ross at Peoria Sports Complex
- John Lackey (Wednesday, March 16) vs. Royals, Chris Young at Surprise Stadium
- Jason Hammel (Thursday, March 17) vs. Diamondbacks at Sloan Park
- Kyle Hendricks (Friday, March 18) vs. White Sox at Camelback Ranch
The Cubs have not posted or announced the starter for Saturday night’s game against the Indians.
The Cubs added a ‘B-Game’ to the spring schedule. The Cubs will travel to Scottsdale and practice against the Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Thursday (12:00pm CDT).