MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — Just nine days remain until the start of Cactus League games for Spring Training.
Pitchers and catchers for the Cubs were working out in Arizona on Thursday – even the old guys. They may need to stretch more, but don’t we all?
Manager David Ross is in charge of trying to get the best out of his group – and he’s holding guys accountable. That includes his close buddies.
That won’t be new for Jon Lester. He expects that from his former catcher – and he also expects the critics to point out that he himself is now 36 years old.
This is season number six with the Cubs for Lester, and he is ready to prove that he is durable, elite, and a straight shooter.
“I’ve been doubted before. I don’t really care. I know what the effort and the preparation that I put in every five days. I think sometimes could be a little bit more hardheaded when it comes to what made me successful and what makes me successful, and I think I got away from some of that last year. It put me behind the eight-ball,” Lester said. “I feel like I can still bring a lot to this team.”
Meanwhile, Cubs fans were worried at this time last year about the lack of a dependable closer in the bullpen. It’s a similar story as Spring Training begins this year – but with a twist, or in this case, a dangling arm.
Craig Kimbrel is the closing pitcher for the Cubs, but which version of the seven-time All-Star will show up?
Kimbrel missed Spring Training last year, and it looked like he could have used it.
That is because after joining the Cubs in the middle of the season, his unique delivery led to just 13 saves in 23 appearances.
“Terrible is kind of an understatement for what I felt like I did last year, so going into this year, I’m just going to get back to doing my job, getting on the mound, and saving games,” Kimbrel said. “Time will tell – a lot of questions will be answered – but I have no doubt in my mind that I’m going to go out on the field, I’m going to do my job this year – put last year behind us.”
The Cubs are hoping a full Spring Training will lead to a 100-percent Kimbrel.