Cubs left-hander Justin Steele ‘in a really good spot’ despite arm fatigue

Notebook: Right-hander Jameson Taillon makes his spring debut, and the pitch clock causes confusion in Scottsdale.

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Cubs pitcher Justin Steele works out during spring training.

Cubs pitcher Justin Steele works out during spring training.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs left-hander Justin Steele is expecting to make his next start, ‘‘no problem.’’

The Cubs scratched him from his first scheduled start of the spring Sunday for what they called general arm fatigue. Steele said he felt tired and ‘‘draggy’’ in his last bullpen session.

‘‘Sat with [pitching coach Tommy Hottovy], and we just discussed it,’’ Steele said Monday. ‘‘And it was just, like, it doesn’t make sense to push it out there and make something worse than what it already is.’’

Steele is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday, then rejoin the rotation. He said he already has built his arm up to two or three innings, so his missed start shouldn’t put him behind schedule.

Did Steele do too much too early, resulting in injury? Or was starting early beneficial, giving him the leeway to recover?

‘‘You could look at it both ways,’’ he said. ‘‘I definitely worked hard this offseason. I’ve done a lot to get to where I am today. Just made sense for us to not press the gas pedal because I’m already in a really good spot.’’

Taillon makes spring debut

Right-hander Jameson Taillon took the mound at Sloan Park in Cubs pinstripes for the first time in a split-squad game the team would go on to lose 12-4 to the Guardians.

‘‘It’s always exciting to get that first one,’’ Taillon said. ‘‘Just remember what the routine I go through is on a start day and the timing of everything and the pregame bullpen and routine and everything. It felt good.’’

Taillon retired the side in order in the first inning but gave up two singles and a two-run home run in the second. He left the game after reaching his 40-pitch limit with two outs in the second.

Taillon did debut his sweeper slider. The only one he threw was to Guardians catcher Mike Zunino, who fouled it off.

‘‘Today we just wanted to be in the zone, fill it up, let the hitters tell us what they were seeing,’’ he said. ‘‘And then we can make adjustments from there. So the first one, nothing too crazy.’’

This spring training will be paced much differently than the one last year, when the lockout shortened the preparation for the season. Taillon, coming back from ankle surgery, only got two spring starts in 2022.

During Taillon’s post-start debriefing, Hottovy reminded him, ‘‘The good news is, we’ve got time.’’

Pitch-clock confusion

When prospect Brennen Davis stepped into the batter’s box to lead off the third inning of the Cubs’ split-squad game against the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale, the count was already 1-1.

The umpire had called a double clock violation, one against Diamondbacks left-hander Joe Mantiply and one against Davis.

‘‘He threw his warmup pitches until the pitch clock expired,’’ Davis told a pool reporter. ‘‘I didn’t know I was supposed to enter the box even if that’s going on.’’

Davis was familiar with the pitch clock after playing with it last season in Triple-A.

The delay seemed to stem from Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly making the last out the inning before. It took longer for him to put on his catcher’s gear and get behind the plate.

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