GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Cubs aren’t ringing any alarm bells, but $155 million pitcher Jon Lester will skip his next start after experiencing a “dead arm” feeling since his last start, the team said Friday.
The left-hander was scheduled to start Saturday against the Seattle Mariners. Rookie Eric Jokisch is to start in his place, manager Joe Maddon said.
“More than likely, he will not miss the start after that,” Maddon said. “But we wanted to be very cautious with him right now. At this point it does not impact Opening Day.”
The team does not consider it serious enough to require even a precautionary MRI, and Maddon said he’s not concerned about the pitcher the Cubs are building their competitive hopes around.
“Not right now, no,” Maddon said. “I’m not [concerned] right now.”
Lester, who pitched five nearly flawless innings in his first two starts this spring before getting knocked around Monday by the Padres, would have two more starts before his scheduled Opening Night start April 5, barring further issue with the arm.
“It’s not pain,” Maddon said. “A lot of guys go through that moment where the arm just doesn’t feel right. I think partly he came out of the chute really strong and probably went after it a little bit too hard too early, possibly trying to impress everybody, just being Jon Lester.
“Guys [on the medical staff] feel really good about it. I checked in with him this morning, and he felt great. We just want to back off a little bit right now.”
Lester, who still is maintaining a between-starts throwing regimen, was not available to media Friday.
The so-called dead-arm period is not uncommon for pitchers during spring training. And Lester told Maddon he had experienced it before, the manager said.
“A lot of times when you talk to a pitcher, especially, and you ask how they’re feeling, when a guy smiles easily and talks easily and is upbeat about it, normally it’s a pretty good indication,” Maddon said. “And he was all of that. I really feel strongly he’s going to be OK.”