Jon Lester completed a five-inning sim game at the Cubs’ complex before his teammates beat up on the Padres in Peoria.
The Cubs picked up their first road win in the Cactus League. Jason Heyward drove in three runs. Javier Baez singled in a pair of runs. Jeimer Candelario collected hits from both sides of the plate. John Andreoli hit an inside the park home run. And on the mound, Clayton Richard and Ryan Williams combined on five shutout innings against a majority of the Padres Opening Day lineup.
Jon Lester faced a group of minor leaguers on Field 1 at the Cubs complex Tuesday. The Cubs decided it was better for Lester to get his work in a sim game instead of starting the Cactus League game against the Padres.
Lester completed a five-inning simulated game Tuesday. Lester worked on his pickoff move and throwing to bases. Lester picked off Dan Vogelbach from first base and he threw a ball away. Lester concentrated on fielding and holding baserunners during the fifth inning of the sim game.
According to the Sun-Times, “The Cubs started the fifth with a runner at first, and Lester’s first throw over was wide and to the screen for an error. Lester sent the runner back to first, repeatedly, to keep working on the move. He threw over six times total in the inning … three good ones, three not.”
Lester also made “a 45-foot underhand toss to first for an out in the third, and after fielding a bunt in the fourth tried to turn a double play but buried a 20-foot throw into the grass that bounced to the shortstop” for the out.
Lester said there were a lot of positives Tuesday and more good than bad. “This is obviously something I can’t run from. This is not something you can hide from.”
Teams stole 44 bases off Lester in 55 attempts last season. Lester would like to at least cut that number in half. Lester knows players like Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon will steal bases regardless, but it’s keeping guys from taking an extra base that shouldn’t is what he’s focused on.
“If we try to cut what happened last year in half, I’d probably couldn’t be more pleased,” Lester said. “That’s my goal, to work on it and make my job easier instead of pitching with guys on second and pitch with guys at first and getting that ground ball double play because our defense is plenty good enough to save a lot of outs for us that way.”
Joe Maddon wants Lester to talk about it and attack the issue, “avoid avoidance.” Maddon isn’t concerned about Lester.
According to multiple reports, Lester gave up a hit and struck out two batters in the first inning. After two innings, Lester had allowed two hits with a pair of strikeouts. Matt Murton doubled off Lester in the third inning. Lester gave up three hits and struck out three after three innings. Two bloop hits and a single started the fourth inning.
Jon Lester’s next start is expected to be Sunday against the Royals at Sloan Park.
- Report from the Sun-Times
- Report from the Tribune
- Report from Bruce Levine
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Report from Carrie Muskat
- Video from the Tribune
Joe Maddon took responsibility for the poor positioning that contributed to Jorge Soler misplaying a deep fly off the bat of Jon Jay into a run scoring double in Monday’s game. Even with that in mind, the Cubs are concerned about Soler’s defense.
According to the Tribune, the Cubs “defensive concerns in left field have shifted from Kyle Schwarber to Jorge Soler.” Maddon said Tuesday that Soler “definitely needs to improve.”
Soler started working on his defense in left after the Cubs re-signed Dexter Fowler. Dave Martinez is working constantly, Maddon said “diligently,” with Soler on his defense. Mark Gonzales reported the Cubs are thinking about starting Kyle Schwarber in left field on Opening Night instead of having him be the team’s DH. Soler could be the designated hitter in the AL park, or be on the bench for the first game of the season.
Maddon said the Cubs “are searching for the right balance” and have not decided “on a strict platoon” in left with Soler and Schwarber.
The Cubs are convinced Soler has the ability to play outfield, he’s shown it, but he struggles with consistency.
Joe Maddon told the beat writers he “hopes to see overall improvement in outfield play this year.” The Cubs plan on having some of the outfielders (Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler) play deeper. According to the Sun-Times, the metrics “show a percentage of value in that, even with the potential increase in singles.”
Matt Murton was on the field for the second straight day Tuesday. Murton played in the simulated game and went 2-for-4 off Jon Lester with a double. Murton participated in a simulated game Monday according to the Sun-Times. The Tribune reported Tuesday was Murton’s first sim game.
Murton ran “gingerly and did not play in the field.” Murton told the Sun-Times that his swing is not an issue. According to Mark Gonzales, Murton is not having any issues swinging the bat or with “straightaway running.” He is having problems “with sudden stops when taking pitches.”
The Cubs do not anticipate Murton being able to play in a game without any limitations for “at least several days.”
It’s unknown at this point if Murton has an opt-out in his contract or if he will accept an assignment to Triple-A to start the season.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Wrigley Field remains on schedule to be ready for the home opener on April 11. And Wrigley’s marquee is on schedule to be re-installed in 10 days.
• The Cardinals might have a short-term solution for shortstop. The Mets placed Ruben Tejada on waivers Tuesday according to multiple reports. The Cardinals could trade for Tejada but if John Mozeliak makes a deal with the Mets, it would not only cost him talent from the system but St. Louis would also be on the hook for his $3 million salary. According to Jon Heyman, the Cardinals interest in Tejada “is limited, at best.”
• The Rangers appear to have Derek Norris at the top of their list of catchers and have targeted the Padres backstop. Texas would like to add depth to the position and possibly have Norris share time with Robinson Chirinos.
• Veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche told the White Sox on Tuesday that it’s time for him to hang ‘em up. LaRoche has decided to retire. The White Sox asked him to sleep on it before making his decision official.
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs selected Frankie De La Cruz off waivers from the Brewers
2001 – Sammy Sosa signed a four-year contract extension.
1999 – Kerry Wood suffered a ligament tear in his right elbow. Wood missed the entire 1999 season. Wood was the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year.
1982 – Cubs acquired Dan Briggs from the Expos for a PTBNL. Cubs sent Mike Griffin to Montreal on March 26, 1982 to complete the trade.
1979 – Hee-Seop Choi, born
1950 – Cubs purchased Bob Schultz from the White Sox
1930 – Hobie Landrith, born
1918 – Vern Olsen, born
1913 – Ken O’Dea, born
1899 – Vic Keen, born