Cleat Geeks

Wrigley Weekly Wrap-up

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Jon Lester has been playing with a bone chip in his pitching elbow and the Cubs knew about it when they signed him to a $155 million contract. The bone chip was found during a 2014 MRI before Lester signed his six-year deal with the team. But Lester calls the bone chip a “non-issue.” He pitched 205 innings in the regular season last year, plus another 14 innings in the postseason. However, if the chip moves, Lester acknowledges that he may have to have surgery. “It’s just a matter of hopefully it stays put, and we don’t have any worry about it,” Lester said. “And then if it does become a concern, if I start having inflammation or missing starts because of it, then that’s when we’ll probably sit down and talk to somebody about getting it removed. As of now, knock on wood, I haven’t had any concern with it.” The team did do an exam on him before the signing. “We did a very thorough exam including imaging of the shoulder and elbow,” team president Theo Epstein said Friday. “We were really quite pleased with the results, as Jon compared very favorably with most of the free agent pitchers we have examined and MRI’d over many years. Virtually all pitchers have some wear and tear on their shoulders and elbows, and Jon’s imperfections were very manageable. He remains very consistent, as we hoped, throwing 200-plus quality innings yet again last season.” Lester didn’t advertise the bone chip as he was being courted as a free agent in 2014, but the Cubs took the risk. “It’s kind of one of those deals if it’s not bothering you, don’t mess with it,” Lester said. “You start getting cut on and doing rehab, and that’s when maybe they’re in there, taking that bone chip out, and it puts more stress on something else. You don’t know. ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ type thing.” Joe Maddon didn’t even know about the bone chip, but he only had praise for Lester. “I’ve watched him throw in this camp and think he’s throwing the ball as well as I’ve ever seen him,” he said. “His delivery is as good as I’ve seen him. His arm stroke is beautiful.”

Contreras-Candelario031916The Cubs cut 11 players from big league camp on Friday, including top catching prospect Willson Contreras and big Cactus League hitter Jeimer Candelario. Pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. was also sent down. Joe Maddon said all could have made an impact on the big league team this season as their farm system remains stocked even though several star players recently made it to the majors. “We graduated a class that’s up there right now,” Maddon said Friday. “You would think it would be barren after that because of how good this class is, but then I get to see these guys more readily. Wow, there’s more.” Contreras will be the starting catcher at Triple-A Iowa while third baseman Candelario was sent to Double-A for the moment. Edwards will also be in Iowa. Others sent to Triple-A Iowa include pitchers Pierce Johnson and C.J. Riefenhauser, along with Arismendy Alcantara. Five non-roster invitees have been assigned to minor league camp, including right-handed pitchers Stephen Fife, Felix Pena and Drew Rucinski, left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos, and catcher Taylor Davis. All of the players sent down can still participate in Cactus League games, but will report to the minor league side of the Cubs facility.

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After the Adam LaRoche situation on the south side, Joe Maddon is letting his team make their own rules. He met with his “Lead Bulls,” a group of 11 veteran players, to reinforce everything from the dress code to rules for kids in the clubhouse. As for the dress code: “if you think you look hot, wear it” and for kids in the clubhouse, they have to be out of the room three hours before game time. Maddon expects his veteran players to police the clubhouse and believes he will get more accountability by including the players in the process.

“I often kid about how we don’t have any rules around here,” Maddon said. “But you do. You have almost like a force field that’s not actually a fence. Guys know if you go past a certain point, you might get stung a little bit. But you don’t have to actually see the fence there. Whether somebody from the outside looking in considers it lenient, wise, revolutionary, whatever, I just think it’s the right way to do things.” Maddon also said he learned his lesson with rule making and that he’s just there to manage the team.

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