Lester has 'good, normal' outing in Minors game

Left-hander makes 54 pitches in first action since experiencing tired arm

Lester has 'good, normal' outing in Minors game

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' Jon Lester threw 54 pitches in a Minor League game Thursday, and that was enough for manager Joe Maddon.

"What I was really watching was him and watching his face and he never seemed like anything bothered him, so I know his arm feels great and that's all I was worried about," Maddon said of the Cubs' ace. "He felt good and his energy was good today. He threw some nice fastballs, nice cutters, yeah, yeah, yeah, but I thought he looked comfortable and that's the most important thing."

Lester struck out three of the 12 Double-A Tennessee batters he faced and gave up one hit and walked one. It was easy to determine which pitches the left-hander wasn't happy with as he expressed himself with a few expletives.

"You can tell how I like a pitch or don't like a pitch by my reaction," Lester said. "It is what it is, it's who I am. It's something people have tried to change with me, but it's who I am."

Lester's three scoreless frames

Catcher David Ross, who was behind the plate for the early workout, has heard it before.

"That's why he's the pitcher he is," Ross said. "He competes hard and he's a perfectionist."

Ross was trying to get Lester to work on his back-door cutter, which usually takes the left-hander until about a month into the season to get a feel for with some consistency.

"That was inconsistent today," Ross said. "Everything for me works off his fastball. His fastball command was very good. I know he gets frustrated, but that's why he's Jon Lester, because he expects a lot out of himself. I expect a lot out of him."

This was Lester's first "start" since he was scratched from a Cactus League game on Saturday because of a tired arm. He will make at least one more start before the season opener April 5 at Wrigley Field. Maddon expected Lester to throw 75-80 pitches in that outing, which would be enough for the opener.

Lester's first Cubs strikeout

"Today was good, today was a normal day," Lester said. "[I'll] come back tomorrow and go about my work again."

He normally experiences the tired arm phase early in spring or in late- to mid-April, so this interruption has been a little abnormal, he said.

"Any time you miss a start, things get blown out of proportion, and people want to assume they know what's going on," Lester said. "During the regular season, this wouldn't have been a problem, and I would've made my normal turn and I would've kept going."

But because it is still Spring Training, the Cubs and Lester had the luxury of taking time. Ross wasn't too worried.

"That guy's a competitor," Ross said. "I'll take that guy any game, any time, no matter if he hasn't picked up a ball in two months."

And did Lester's arm look tired?

"It looked nice and freckly when I saw it," Ross said, smiling. "No tan -- farmer's tan, lot of freckles. I couldn't tell whether it was tired or not."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.