DETROIT — It will be an emotional day Monday at Wrigley Field, with longtime Cubs ace Jon Lester returning to the Friendly Confines as a visitor for the first time since spending six seasons with the North Siders (2015-20).
The veteran left-hander, 37, will start against his old team as the Nationals come to town for a four-game series. Former Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber also will be making his return to Wrigley.
‘‘I knew as soon as I signed and saw the schedule,’’ Lester said. ‘‘You pick out certain road trips that are always fun, and obviously this was the one that stuck out for me for a lot of different reasons. . . . It’ll be nice to get back in. It’s kind of nice to pitch on Monday and get it out of the way. That way, I can just enjoy being in Chicago.’’
Lester was 77-44 with a 3.64 ERA during his time with the Cubs after signing a six-year, $155 million deal after the 2014 season.
No one is more excited to see Lester return to Wrigley than Cubs manager David Ross. Ross was Lester’s personal catcher with the Cubs and still has a close friendship with him.
‘‘The guy is super-special to me,’’ Ross said. ‘‘I hope that the fans give him the welcome back he deserves. He’s a special human being. He means a lot to me. He means a lot to this organization and has done a lot for this organization and a lot of guys in this clubhouse. I think Cubs Nation will be super-appreciative and give him the love that he needs.’’
After making his last start at Wrigley last September, Lester lamented not being able to show the fans his appreciation. As a final gesture, Lester spent nearly $50,000 buying fans beer in November.
‘‘The biggest thing for me is just making sure I walk into the right dugout and out to the right bullpen,’’ Lester said jokingly. ‘‘That’s going to be the weird part, not turning right off the mound. You’ve got to turn left; you’ve got to go to the other one. So I have to make sure I do that.
‘‘I’m excited for the fans to be there. I don’t know what to expect. I’m not really expecting anything. I’m expecting to go back and hopefully pitch well.’’
Mills to injured list; Nance selected
The Cubs put right-hander Alec Mills on the 10-day injured list with a strained lower back and selected the contract of right-hander Tommy Nance from Triple-A Iowa in a corresponding move.
Mills is 2-0 with a 5.96 ERA in 12 appearances this season. Nance was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA, 10 strikeouts and one walk in three relief appearances at Iowa.
‘‘[Alec] came in after the game [Saturday] just stiff with some tightness back there,’’ Ross said. ‘‘The trainers checked him out. I think it’s just one of those times that they don’t want to push it this part of the season. He’s had it a little bit in the past, and it’s something that they want to get on top of early.’’