Lester to make next start in Minors contest

Prospect Contreras impresses Maddon with instincts behind plate

Lester to make next start in Minors contest

MESA, Ariz. -- Jon Lester's next spring outing will be in a Minor League game on Tuesday, rather than in the Cubs' scheduled Cactus League game against the Padres. The move allows Lester to work on some things, and it will give that day's starter, Clayton Richard, an opportunity to get stretched out.

Lester was charged with a fielding error in his first Cactus League game, but manager Joe Maddon said they aren't putting the lefty on a back field because of that.

"You'd like to see some other guys against varsity competition," Maddon said. "This way, you can assure the fact that you can stretch [Lester] out comfortably. It wasn't done to get work on anything like throwing to the bases. That wasn't the motivation."

Cubs Spring Training information

The Cubs will also have Jake Arrieta, who will make his second spring start on Monday, pitch in a Minor League game next Saturday rather than in a Cactus League night game against the Indians.

"It's to shield him from other teams seeing him," Maddon said. "You like to shield, and the other thing is to make sure the guy gets his work in more comfortably and you can stretch him out. I understand the question about Lester, but that's not the reason."

The Cubs also have added a "B" game at 10 a.m. MT on Thursday against the Rockies at Talking Stick.

Willson Contreras, ranked No. 10 on MLB.com's list of the Cubs' Top 30 Prospects, made an impressive play to throw out the Dodgers' Micah Johnson at second base on Saturday night. Maddon likes what he sees of the young catcher.

"This kid is in on every pitch," Maddon said, noting that in a recent game, Contreras called a pitch that the coaches didn't agree with.

"I didn't care about that," Maddon said. "The decision he made was made because he was thinking. Maybe we didn't agree with his thought, but I liked what he thought. At least he wasn't just putting a finger down. That's a good sign, too."

Shane Victorino, sidelined because of a tight right calf, could be back in the Cubs' lineup on Monday. Meanwhile, outfielder Matt Szczur, who has not played in a spring game because of a sore lat, was expected to get some at-bats in Minor League camp at the end of next week.

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