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‘The helmet worked’: Cubs IF David Bote returns to practice after beaning

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs infielder David Bote was back to regular practice work Tuesday only two days after getting hit in the head by a Madison Bumgarner pitch.

“The helmet worked,” said Bote, who never showed symptoms severe enough to require entering MLB’s concussion protocol.

“I feel definitely blessed to come away with just a bump.”

Bote, who spoke after participating in batting practice on the field for the first time since taking the fastball flush to the side of the helmet, said he wanted to stay in the game and go to first but wasn’t allowed.

Bote | John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

He said Bumgarner texted him to make sure he was OK.

“He’s the ultimate pro,” Bote said. “He didn’t have to do that.”

Manager Joe Maddon said that barring anything unforeseen, he expects Bote to be ready to play Wednesday.

“He came into my office chirping [Tuesday morning],” Maddon said. “He looked really good.”

Montgomery ramping up

Left-hander Mike Montgomery, the linchpin swingman of the Cubs’ pitching staff, threw a 30-pitch bullpen session without issue and expects to start throwing live batting practice by the end of the week.

That could put him on track for a Cactus League debut sometime around the end of next week.

Montgomery had thrown two bullpen sessions before camp officially opened when he experienced mild shoulder stiffness that caused the club to shut him down and delay his regular spring work.

He said he feels fine now and doesn’t expect the delay to prevent him from opening the season on time.

Bullpen battle

The only potential job battles in camp, barring injury, involve the bullpen. Some fluidity exists at the end of what should be an eight-man crew, if only because closer Brandon Morrow is expected to miss the first month.

Keep your eye on left-hander Mike Zagurski, the 36-year-old journeyman who has pitched all over the map on two continents. He could pitch himself into play for a spot.

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After pitching out of a jam and earning the victory in the Cubs’ spring opener Saturday, Zagurski retired his first four batters against the Diamondbacks before giving up a single and departing.

So about that opener . . .

Maddon talked about Jon Lester’s spring debut like he was talking about his Opening Day starter, even if he’s not ready to make that official yet.

“Really sharp,” Maddon said of Lester’s two hitless innings Monday against the Padres, which included three strikeouts and a walk.

“They were getting bad swings at him. That’s what I always look at. The hitters will tell you the shape of the pitches, how they’re moving, by their reaction.

‘‘I thought they had bad reactions to his pitches yesterday, and I kind of liked it.”