The Cubs are expected to put ace Jon Lester on the injured list Wednesday because of the left hamstring injury he suffered running the bases in the home opener Monday.
Tyler Chatwood, who lost his starting job last season because of historically bad control problems, is expected to get a spot start in Lester’s place Sunday against the Angels. It would be Chatwood’s first start since Aug. 18.
Depending how long Lester needs to recover, the Cubs could utilize off-days to avoid using a fifth starter again until April 27.
Left-handed swingman Mike Montgomery, who made 19 impressive starts last year to help save the regular season, is on the IL with a “mild” lat strain and eligible to return Monday.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon suggested Monday that Lester would miss at least one start and said again Tuesday on 670 The Score that he will “miss at least one and probably maybe even two starts.”
Lester, 35, doubled and later scored from second on a single during the second inning of Monday’s 10-0 victory over the Pirates. He said he felt a “cramping sensation” on the scoring play.
“I didn’t feel any tingling or any numbness or anything like that,” said Lester, who had an MRI on Tuesday. “Just something was in there grabbing me a little bit.”
Barely 10 games into the season, the Cubs plan to treat their five-time All-Star starter cautiously.
If there was an upside out of Monday’s short start, it was the way the Cubs’ struggling bullpen delivered seven shutout innings to power the team to a successful home opener.
Lester, who had downplayed the severity of the injury, tweeted Tuesday morning: “Sometimes when you have elite speed these things can happen. Great to get the W in front of the home crowd though, here’s to many, many, many more!”