After simulated game, Jon Lester could be near return from lat injury
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Opening Day starter Jon Lester fared well Monday in a 47-pitch simulated game.
Barring unforeseen issues when he’s evaluated again Tuesday, Lester (lat tightness, shoulder fatigue) would next throw Wednesday in a typical between-starts side session, after which a timeline for a return could be laid out.
“I thought he looked good,’’ general manager Jed Hoyer said. ‘‘It looked like the ball was coming out well. It looked like he had no restrictions. It looked like he was competing. He seemed happy with the results. But a lot of it is how he feels [Tuesday] and the next day to judge it.”
Hoyer said he wasn’t sure if Lester would make a minor-league rehab start or two. He has been on the disabled list since Aug. 18.
Bosio takes family leave
Pitching coach Chris Bosio left the team to return home to California after his father died overnight Sunday.
The team has set no timetable for his return.
Bullpen coach Lester Strode takes over Bosio’s duties.
Catcher Willson Contreras (hamstring) looked sharp batting against Lester in the simulated game, and he finished off an aggressive, vigorous week of rehab work during the weekend.
But the club is preaching caution just three weeks into a process that was estimated to require four to six weeks.
“That’s still going to be a little bit away, just based on biology, regardless of how good he feels,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Much closer to returns were shortstop Addison Russell (foot) and reliever Justin Grimm (finger), both of whom started rehab assignments Monday with Class AAA Iowa.
Russell went 1-for-3 with a double and a strikeout, and he played four innings in the field. Grimm pitched one inning, allowed a home run and struck out two.
Both could be activated soon after rosters expand Friday.
La Stella stays in lineup
For the third consecutive game and fourth time in six days, infielder Tommy La Stella found himself in an unusual place: the Cubs’ starting lineup.
He has made 13 other starts all season for the Cubs.
“It’s just hard to walk away from his bat right now,” Maddon said.
La Stella is coming off a road trip in which he went 6-for-13 (.462) with three of his five homers this season, a walk and eight RBI.
La Stella entered the game hitting .322 with a team-leading .994 OPS in 106 plate appearances.
“Tommy’s swinging the bat that well, that to not utilize him would be inappropriate,” Maddon said. “Moving forward, I expect things to get back into their normal patterns, but for right now, he looks that good.”
Impact arm for the fall?
The Cubs don’t seem to have much left in the upper tiers of their minor-league system to suggest an impact addition when rosters expand.
But one intriguing name to watch is right-hander Dillon Maples, 25.
Maples, who has reached triple-digit velocity this season, spent five seasons in the minors looking like a bust until breaking out this year with a 2.31 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 62„ innings at three levels.
He’s in the discussion for a September debut, but the Cubs are far from making that decision yet.
Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.