‘Wear and tear’ of deep playoff runs cause of Jon Lester’s struggles?
MILWAUKEE — Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said he and struggling left-hander Jon Lester worked on a mechanical adjustment Friday during Lester’s between-starts bullpen session, trying to find a solution to his four-game slump since returning from the disabled list.
But the perception that Lester is not physically 100 percent hangs in the air as the Opening Day starter makes his final two highly scrutinized starts in preparation for an anticipated Game 1 or 2 playoff start.
“He says he is,” Bosio said. “But you’ve got to remember the workload that these guys have had.”
Lester, who spent the last two weeks of August on the DL with lat tightness and shoulder fatigue, has pitched the playoffs the last four consecutive seasons, making 13 extra starts in that span, including pitching 35⅔ postseason innings last year alone.
“Playing deep into the calendar the last couple of years, yeah, there’s wear and tear,” Bosio said. But we’ve got to find a way to fight through it, and Jon’s just another one of those examples of guys that have to fight through it and get out there and get results.
“Because this is a result-based business. And we need him. We all know it. Cubs Nation knows we need him. We need him in the worst way. He realizes that. I’m going to do everything I can; he’s going to do everything he can; we’re all going to do everything we can to make sure that all of our players are supported.”
Lester, the National League Championship Series co-MVP last season, insisted after a rough start Wednesday that his velocity dip and command problems are not health-related.
“There’s no lingering effects from anything. There’s nothing physically wrong,” he said.
Lester’s next start is Monday in St. Louis, with one more scheduled for Oct. 30 against the Reds.
Thoughts with Puerto Rico
Infielder Javy Baez said he finally reached his brother in Puerto Rico just before he got to the clubhouse and was assured his family was safe after the worst hurricane to hit the island in 89 years nearly flattened the U.S. territory Wednesday.
Rookie catcher Victor Caratini said he was optimistic his family was safe, too, but he still had not been able to reach anyone at home in a more remote part of Puerto Rico.
“My brother told me it was crazy, that it was something that he’d never seen before,” Baez said. “They say there’s no trees in Puerto Rico right now.
“It’s really bad. But there’s still people smiling and trying to get through it.”
Baez said professional athletes and celebrities from Puerto Rico have come together to help relief efforts. The major-league players’ union also announced a $1 million contribution to aid victims of recent natural disasters in the Caribbean, Mexico and the U.S.
This and that
Reliever Koji Uehara remained in Chicago this week for continued treatment for his ailing back, putting his status for the rest of the season in doubt.
• Manager Joe Maddon had catcher Willson Contreras and Addison Russell on the bench as he continued a policy of easing them back into full-time action off recent injuries and looking ahead to an especially early start Saturday.
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