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Lester missing Lackey; righty 'probably done'

Former Cub yet to announce whether he'll play or retire
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- Jon Lester and John Lackey had a routine in camp where the two pitchers would arrive early and work out for 30 minutes on the elliptical machines together. They called it "extra credit." This spring, Lester's workout buddy isn't around the Cubs' camp.

"I was going to text him [Thursday] and send him a picture of the empty elipitcal and say, 'Hey, man, where are you at?'" Lester said Friday. "I know he said he still wanted to play. I don't know if that would have been a little jab or a little funny."

MESA, Ariz. -- Jon Lester and John Lackey had a routine in camp where the two pitchers would arrive early and work out for 30 minutes on the elliptical machines together. They called it "extra credit." This spring, Lester's workout buddy isn't around the Cubs' camp.

"I was going to text him [Thursday] and send him a picture of the empty elipitcal and say, 'Hey, man, where are you at?'" Lester said Friday. "I know he said he still wanted to play. I don't know if that would have been a little jab or a little funny."

Lackey, 39, has not formally announced whether he will play this season, which would be his 16th. He also hasn't said if he's going to ride off into the sunset.

"He hasn't said anything to me," Lester said Friday. "I don't know. I would imagine he's probably done. When I saw him in January, he said he was working out like normal and said he was ready to play if anybody called."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The two have been teammates for all but a couple of seasons and Lester, 34, said it was weird to not have the right-hander around.

"The cool part is now I get to learn from these young guys," Lester said. "It's fun to talk to [Kyle Hendricks] and listen to him and how he pitches and sitting down with [coach Mike Borzello] and breaking stuff down and listening to [Anthony Rizzo] talk and all these guys talk about hitting. It's a different time now for me, and I get to see what 'Lack' got to see for so long."

Lester was on the disabled list last season because of shoulder fatigue, but didn't do anything differently to prepare for this season.

Video: Muskat on Lester's importance, Hendrick's role

"I took about two weeks off and got back at it," Lester said. "Hopefully, we don't have to worry about any [injuries] this year. I feel good as far as where I'm at physically."

Who will lead off?

Would Kyle Schwarber want to lead off this year?

"Ask the manager," said Schwarber, who batted .190 in 37 games batting first.

Albert Almora Jr. volunteered for the leadoff spot.

"If he feels he's ready to do it, he's ready to do it," Schwarber said. "I don't put anything by him. He's one of the most talented players I've seen. If he's ready to do it, I'm sure he'll be able to step in and do it."

Video: Outlook: Schwaber is a pure slugger, but K's plenty

Darvish wants to meet Schwarber

During his introductory news conference, Yu Darvish was asked which Cubs player he would like to meet. The right-hander said Schwarber, who hit a home run off Darvish in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, which the Dodgers won, 6-1.

As of Friday morning, the two had only said hello, but not discussed the homer.

"I'm not here to rub it in or boast," Schwarber said. "It is what it is. I hit a home run off him."

So far, the newest Cubs pitcher has made a good first impression.

Video: Rob Zastryzny on Cubs signing Yu Darvish

"Being able to watch him work, it's cool to see how he takes his work seriously," Schwarber said of Darvish. "He wants to win a World Series. He's definitely fitting into the culture of this organization. We're happy to have him on."

Quote of the day

"It's nice to be on a team that likes to add [someone like Darvish]. ... We don't need any extra motivation. We're going to come out here and try to win. We know teams are going to come after us. We're going to go after them. A lot of teams took a lot of strides last year. Everyone wants to get better -- talking about St. Louis, talking about Milwaukee. There's a lot of competition. We expect those challenges and look forward to it." -- outfielder Jason Heyward

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Jon Lester