MESA – Cubs starter Jon Lester’s performance during a batting practice session Thursday at Sloan Park left manager Joe Maddon impressed.
“The work today was spectacular,” Maddon said. “I said, man you could have been pitching the first game of the season today the way you looked.”
No one is certain who will start the season off on March 29 in Miami, but Lester appears the likely option.
Following a disappointing 2017 season, Lester’s future looked uncertain. He finished the year with a 4.33 ERA in 32 starts.
Heading into the second half of his 6-year, $155 million contract, it doesn’t appear Lester is slowing down anytime soon.
Not only does Maddon see improved pitching in Lester, but he sees a leader.
“I’m seeing probably the best version of Jon that I’ve witnessed as a person, how he goes about his business,” Maddon said. “Just as leadership, believe me, it’s coming out.”
Maddon went on to talk about Lester’s demeanor in the pitchers and catchers meeting, saying Lester was “very comfortable sharing his opinions and very demonstrative” and is speaking from the heart.
“I love his method in that meeting and that really spoke loudly to me,” Maddon said.
The Cubs kick off their spring training season Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Park.