One ‘yip’ only blip for Lester
Jon Lester looked like his old self Sunday at Wrigley Field. In more ways than one.
Pitching for the first time in an intrasquad scrimmage since the Cubs began preseason workouts, Lester — who’s not as far along as most of the other members of the rotation — threw 2⅓ innings and appeared to be in full command.
The lefty struck out Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber in a 1-2-3 first inning. Then he struck out Jason Heyward and David Bote in what should’ve been a 1-2-3 second inning.
But we mentioned the “old self ” thing, did we not? With two outs in the second, Nico Hoerner bounced a softly hit comebacker to Lester, who fielded the ball on the second bounce, whirled toward first base and … wait for it … keep waiting.
Most pitchers would’ve made the throw in plenty of time for the third out. Lester — still utterly uncomfortable with throws around the infield — thought better of trying.
Hoerner’s “hit” was the only one allowed by Lester, and it was as cheap as cheap gets. The only other batter who reached base off him, Almora, did so on an error by shortstop Javy Baez.
This and that
Anthony Rizzo missed the scrimmage, his third consecutive limited day while recovering from a sore back, but he did begin to ramp things back up. Rizzo took early batting practice in the cage, faced Colin Rea in live batting practice and fielded some ground balls at first base.
Manager David Ross was encouraged to see Rizzo swing and miss at a couple of changeups that fooled him — which can be bad news for a sore back — without experiencing any real discomfort.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis continues to impress with a good camp. No one is running harder on the bases.
“Really pushing the envelope,” Ross said. “He looks in midseason form. I couldn’t be happier.”
Starting perhaps on Tuesday, the Cubs will have actual umpires at their intrasquad scrimmages. Veteran Tony Randazzo and his crew will be stationed at Wrigley. That means no more calling balls and strikes for mental skills coach John Baker, which no one is likely to mind one bit.
Jon Lester showed great command in his stint in an intrasquad game Sunday at Wrigley Field.