SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Jon Lester spoke to reporters about his fielding woes, which showed up several times Thursday:
Lester said he works every day on pickoffs and throwing to bases and conceded he "never has been comfortable" throwing to bases since his high school days. "I'm a bigger guy (6 foot 4, 240 pounds), I have a harder time with being in the infield," he said. "I never played the infield. I played the outfield. Everything is a lot different. Obviously pitching is a very different motion and (throwing to a base) is something I've not felt comfortable with."
I found this statement curious. Most of the Cubs' starting staff is "bigger guys" (figures from the player's baseball-reference page):
Jake Arrieta: 6-4, 225 Jason Hammel: 6-6, 225 John Lackey: 6-6, 235
Those men don't seem to have the problem Lester does. (Kyle Hendricks is a bit smaller at 6-3, 190.) It's not as if Lester is a kid trying to learn the game -- he's been a professional baseball player for 14 years. I'm not sure what the issue is here, but it seems to me the Cubs have got to find a way to deal with it.
Good news on Kyle Schwarber, who left Thursday's game with "knee soreness":
Maddon says Schwarber will take 2 days off with sore left knee. Not concerned— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) March 11, 2016
Note on spring attendance: as of Friday morning, the next seven games at Sloan Park are sold out. Tickets remain (but not many) for Sunday 3/27 vs. the Mariners (lawn only), Tuesday 3/29 vs. the Athletics and Wednesday 3/30 vs. the Rockies.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Heyward RF, Zobrist 2B, Rizzo 1B, Russell SS, Montero C, Victorino LF, Vogelbach DH, Candelario 3B
Cave CF, Peraza SS, Suarez 3B, Duvall RF, Allen 1B, De Jesus 2B, Ervin DH, Holt LF, Cabrera C
The Reds are a split squad today, thus the almost complete lack of recognizable names in the lineup.
John Lackey makes his first spring start this afternoon. Other Cubs scheduled to throw today: Eric Jokisch, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, Drew Rucinski and Spencer Patton.
Robert Stephenson goes for the Reds. Others on the Reds pitching list: Rookie Davis, Drew Hayes, Sal Romano, JC Ramirez and Layne Somsen.
Today's game is on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie.
Please visit our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter. If you do go there to interact with Reds fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.
Please note that during spring training, Gameday doesn't usually go pitch-by-pitch as it does during the regular season -- usually, it will update after each at-bat.
For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at five minutes to game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today, that will be 2 p.m. CT and 3:30 p.m. CT.
These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page. There will also be a StoryStream on the front page with all the game thread links, as well as the recap after the game is over. The pitcher boxes and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.
Discuss amongst yourselves.