Lester ready for Reds speedster Hamilton

Ace hopes to get quick baserunners out, not have to worry about steals

Lester ready for Reds speedster Hamilton

DENVER -- Jon Lester's ability to deal with baserunners will be tested on Monday when the Cubs play host to the Reds and speedster Billy Hamilton.

Lester has not thrown to first base since April 30, 2013, against the Blue Jays. The Cardinals stole three bases against him in the season opener April 5 at Wrigley Field, but two of those came on a double steal. What does Lester think of all the attention on his ability to throw to first?

"I think the stolen bases on Opening Night got blown out of proportion a little bit," Lester said.

That first start kicked off the Major League season and was broadcast on national television, which also is why it drew so much discussion.

"Day one, we lose. It didn't go the way everybody expected it to go," Lester said.

Now, the lefty will have to deal with Hamilton, who was second in the National League in stolen bases last year with 56.

"Billy's going to steal his bags," Lester said. "He's too fast, he's too good a baserunner. Those are the guys, like the Rajai Davises, the Jacoby Ellsburys, the Brett Gardners, you try to minimize them just being on base. Hopefully you just get them out. If they do get on, they get on. It doesn't matter how many times you pick over or do this, they'll still steal their bags. You're not going to detour that."

What Lester has worked on since his first start is varying his delivery time. He isn't as annoyed when someone like Davis or Ellsbury steals a bag against him as he is when it's a baserunner who isn't considered a good baserunner.

"Billy's Billy," he said of Hamilton. "It's like Rickey Henderson. You can throw over there 100 times in a row, but the 101st time, he's going to steal second, and he's going to steal it. It is what it is. Hopefully, you get him out and don't have to worry about it."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon's advice?

"Keep [Hamilton] off base. Don't let him out there," Maddon said.

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.