Jon Lester ready for Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester declared himself ready for Opening Day after throwing 84 pitches in a minor league contest on Tuesday.

After he missed a spring start earlier this month due to a fatigued arm, there was some concern over Lester's availability for Sunday night's opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. But after two minor league outings, Lester says he's ready, even though he may not be at his very best in his first start for his new team.

"Once we get to a game with some fans and some adrenaline I think things will sharpen up a little bit," Lester said. "We'll figure it out. This game is built on adjustments."

Lester wasn't thrilled with his command on Tuesday but got through his 84 pitches without any arm issues and expects a normal routine the rest of the week. He'll throw a side session and then take the mound for the Cubs for the first time since signing a six-year, $155 million free-agent contract over the winter.

"Yeah, there is added adrenaline," Lester said. "Added excitement. But you always try to fall back on the routine. You do everything the same to combat the emotions getting out of hand."

Lester will likely be limited to a pitch count under 100, which isn't all that unusual for the first start of the year. Ever the perfectionist, Lester hopes to get it right on Sunday after Tuesday's dissatisfaction.

"Wasn't overall happy with the sharpness of everything," he reiterated. "Come Sunday everything will be fine."

He'll take the mound without a big bat in the lineup as teammate Kris Bryant was sent to the minors on Monday. Bryant leads all spring hitters with nine home runs.

"It sucks," Lester said. "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."

The Cubs will employ Bryant for an extra year before he can become a free agent if he's in the minors for 11 or more days this season. It's expected the team will call him up shortly after that.

"I can't control what (team president) Theo (Epstein) does, what Kris does, what anyone else does," Lester said. "We have to worry about what we do in this clubhouse and who's here now.

"We've all been there. He's just a little more high-profile than the rest of us coming up. I think you want anybody that is swinging the bat like he is. But at the same time we understand what's going on."