Lester rolling, not bothered by bone chips

Issue doesn't concern lefty, Maddon, Epstein

March 20th, 2016

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn't know Jon Lester has bone chips in his left elbow. Not many people were aware, but a new book revealed that detail about the left-hander and that Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein knew before signing him to a six-year, $155 million contract.

"If it was a serious issue, the contract that I signed probably wouldn't be what it was," Lester said Sunday.

Author Jeff Passan details the Cubs' pursuit of Lester in Chapter 7 of his new book, "The Arm."

Cubs Spring Training info

"I've watched him throw several times in camp and I think he's throwing the ball as well as I've ever seen him," Maddon said. "Regarding any kind of discomfort in his arm, I'm not aware of that. Jonny's kind of a tough guy, a quiet guy. I think he's in a good place. Until he talks to me about his arm being uncomfortable, I'm fine with what I'm seeing."

In his second Cactus League game Sunday, Lester struck out four over five innings in a 5-2 win vs. the Royals, and downplayed any concern.

"Regardless of what an MRI shows or anything like that, you can throw a pitch and blow out," Lester said. "I've been pitching a long time, I've dealt with different minor and even bigger things through my years. I think you can go back and look and I haven't missed any time for any elbow problems.

"I know for a fact [the bone chips have] been there for a while," he said. "It is what it is. You can take any pitcher in this game who has pitched for as long as I have, and stick them in a [MRI] tube, you're going to find something."

Lester has been on the disabled list twice -- for cancer treatment in 2006 and a strained lat in '11. Epstein has known the lefty since their days together on the Red Sox, which is one of the reasons the revelation of the bone chips didn't scare the Cubs' executive from signing Lester to the mega deal. Epstein is aware of Lester's work ethic and his training program.

"I don't think it was a huge issue for those guys," Lester said.

Some pitchers undergo surgery to remove the chips because of the discomfort. Lester isn't too concerned.

"There's been times thorugh the years you have some inflammation in your elbow or whatever, and guys are like, 'Well, you probably have a bone chip or something in there that doesn't feel too good that makes it bark a little bit,'" Lester said. "I think my track record speaks for itself. I haven't missed any time for any elbow problems, knock on wood."

Maddon says Lester looks as strong as he did when he was the Red Sox ace, and predicted the lefty will have a great year in his second season with the Cubs. The emergence of National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta has helped ease the pressure off Lester, who is reunited this season with his buddy John Lackey.

"Stuff like that I don't concern myself with," Maddon said when asked about Lester and the bone chips. "Just go play. A bone chip is a bone chip. If there's an issue, you attack the issue and move on from that. I have a hard time worrying about stuff like that. Right now I think he looks great. I saw him with Boston when he was really good. I think he looks as good as he did in Boston."