MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester stopped short of declaring himself ready for Opening Day but after throwing 54 pitches on Thursday in a minor league contest against Cubs farmhands he’s getting closer.
“I have one more start,” Lester said afterward. “I don’t like to look past the next one. … It’s not my first rodeo. We’ll figure it out.”
Lester hit between 90-93 mph on the radar gun and both he and his catcher, David Ross, agreed that his fastball was mostly good but his off-speed stuff was not as sharp after missing a start recently due to a fatigued pitching arm.
“His fastball was really good today,” Ross said. “His secondary stuff was just so-so for me.”
Being off didn’t sit well with Lester who doesn’t apologize for showing his emotions on the mound.
“You can probably tell how I like a pitch or don’t like a pitch by watching my reaction to it,” Lester said. “People have tried to change me but it’s just who I am.”
So what bothered him on Thursday? He claims he didn’t make proper adjustments.
“That’s kind of my biggest pet peeve,” Lester explained. “You continually do the same thing over and over and don’t change it. If I miss a ball up and away to a righty I’d rather miss down and away to him. At least I made the adjustment. But to do the same thing over and over again is kind of unacceptable.”
This is what we’re getting from Lester in his first few months as a Cub. Complete honesty. And apparently that extends to the mound as well.
“I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” he stated.
Ross added: “Sometimes he doesn’t like it when he doesn’t do what he’s trying to do.”
So right now Lester isn’t as sharp as he would like to be. And he might be limited in his first start in terms of a pitch count. Plus, he says his curveball might not come around until April or May or when the weather warms up. But none of those are reasons not to believe he’ll be as good as advertised come next Sunday night at Wrigley Field.
“I’ll take that guy off the couch in December,” Ross declared.
Lester's final spring start will be next Tuesday -- most likely in another minor league affair.