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Cubs’ Jon Lester (shoulder) to throw pen Friday, ‘figure out’ timeline

Jon Lester

CINCINNATI — Left-hander Jon Lester played catch before the games Tuesday and Wednesday and is scheduled to throw from a mound Friday in Philadelphia for the first time since going on the disabled list last week because of lat tightness and shoulder fatigue.

Lester downplayed the significance of playing catch. But with the bullpen session scheduled, his timeline for a return could be in the first week of September, barring a setback.

“We’ll figure that out once we get to a more fun point [in the rehab process],” Lester said. “Throwing off a mound will give us a better idea.”

Lester left his start last Thursday in the second inning because of the lat tightness.

With the Cubs in first place and playing well, the team is expected to take a cautious approach with Lester, given the importance of September and the expectation of another playoff run.

“We’ll take it one step at a time, but he felt good,” manager Joe Maddon said. “After the bullpen, then he’ll probably do a [simulated] game, something like that, and then we’ll figure out what we’ve got.”

Mike Montgomery, subbing for Lester in the rotation, pitched six scoreless innings Wednesday.

Bryant breathing sigh of relief

A day after being hit by a pitch on his already ailing left hand, Kris Bryant sat out Wednesday. But the club said the bruise on the side of his hand near the palm had improved by Wednesday afternoon.

Bryant already was dealing with a sprain in the crease between his pinkie and ring fingers on the hand, a result of catching a finger on the cleat of the third baseman when sliding headfirst during a game in Atlanta last month.

“I’ve been trying to make my hand feel better, and I get hit in the same area where it’s not feeling too great,” Bryant said Tuesday night. “But it could have been a lot worse.”

No grounders, no bragging rights

Contrary to Bryant’s speculation, Anthony Rizzo said he did not change his Twitter profile to include “third baseman” after becoming the first lefty-fielding major-leaguer in 20 years to play third on Tuesday night.

“I didn’t get any ground balls so I couldn’t really talk that much,” said Rizzo, who took over in the ninth after Bryant was hit by the pitch. “I was just standing there.”

After quickly volunteering for the job and then getting out to the position, he no longer relished the idea of getting a grounder.

“It was just really weird,” he said. “It felt like my equilibrium was off.”

Rizzo is the first lefty thrower to play third since Mario Valdez of the White Sox in 1907 and only the third Cub to do it.

He’s the first lefty thrower to play both third and second (on bunt defense) in a game since Wee Willie Keeler in 1901.

“I need to get in the outfield now just so I can say I’m a super utility guy,” Rizzo said.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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