MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs’ $155 million left arm remained intact Monday as ace Jon Lester resumed regular throwing activities with a side session and fielding practice in preparation for a start Thursday.
“It was good. A normal bullpen, got through it, good sign,” said Lester, who skipped Saturday’s scheduled start because of what he and the team consider a common “dead arm” syndrome. “Now we prepare as normal for a normal start.”
How his sharpness and velocity look in games going forward might be the better indicator for whether he is completely past the “dead arm” effects.
A bullpen session doesn’t reveal that, he said.
“There’s no test for a dead arm. You just pitch. It’s not like there’s pain. … It’s just a feeling you have,” he said. “Today was just more getting out there, getting my feet under me and going through my normal routine.
“The other stuff will be there. We’re still in the process of building arm strength and arm speed and all that stuff. So that’ll come as the innings get higher. I’ve always felt that it takes me a little longer, maybe towards the end of May where you start feeling strong, you feel good and just going through that five-day [routine] with the games and throwing 100-something pitches every five days.
“As of now I’m not worried about velocity. I’m just more worried about building the arm strength and making sure you’re healthy in between and make the next one.”
If Lester remains on schedule at this point, he would pitch Thursday and then again March 31, which would – assuming he’s built up enough – keep him on track for the Cubs’ opener April 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“We’ve still got a long ways to go, but I don’t think there’s any question mark for it,” he said of being ready for the opener. “There’s no worry in my mind for it.”