Lester makes his first pickoff throws to 1st base in 2 years
CHICAGO (AP) - Jon Lester made a pickoff throw to first base for the first time in two years.
Lester, who signed a $155 million, six-year contract with the Chicago Cubs, threw over twice in the second inning of Monday night's 7-6 win over Cincinnati.
The first was just off target and the second went by first baseman Anthony Rizzo for an error. The ball bounced off the wall behind the base to right fielder Jorge Soler, who threw out Zack Cozart at third.
''It actually felt really good to throw a ball over to first base. It's been a while,'' Lester said after the game. ''The second one, I got a little excited. I looked over there and the guy was going in the other direction, and when you're not used to doing stuff like that ... I just got a little overexcited and tried to throw the ball a little too soon.''
Lester had not thrown a pickoff to first since April 30, 2013, for Boston at Toronto. He allowed three stolen bases in his first start for Chicago, against St. Louis on April 5.
Maddon said the lack of pickoffs could become a situation ''only if you permit it.''
''We still have control over it,'' Maddon said. ''There's things that we can do, and that's what I want us to focus on.''
Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said there will be ''work'' between now and the next start for Lester, who has a 7.84 ERA.
''He's very much a grown man who faces things head-on and he's going to work,'' Epstein said. ''He's got some things to work on, as he said last night.''
Something that could help Lester keep runners in control even if he doesn't throw to first are his catchers. Reds manager Bryan Price lauded the ability of David Ross, Miguel Montero and Welington Castillo to throw out runners, and also mentioned how quick Lester is to the plate.
''There may be a certain sense of not as much anxiety for the baserunners because he doesn't throw over,'' Price said, ''but I don't think like the league's going to steal 100 bases against him.''