Cubs Spring Training Update: Lester Ready, Almora Heating Up

When it comes down to it, an athlete knows his body better than anyone else. That is the case with Chicago Cubs’ ace Jon Lester who, after his most recent start, felt a sensation known to many athletes as “Dead Arm.” It is defined as “a syndrome that starts with repetitive motion and forces on the posterior capsule of the shoulder. The posterior capsule is a band of fibrous tissue that interconnects with tendons of the rotator cuff of the shoulder.”

Lester, 31, stressed to the media that this is a common occurrence and is nothing to worry about. Statistics back him up on this matter. In each of the past eight seasons he’s started no fewer than 31 games regardless of his arm fatigue. He was scratched from his last start this past Saturday but is expected to make a start Thursday and again on March 31st before pitching the season opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 5th.

He threw a bullpen session this afternoon and told the Chicago Sun Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer, “It was good. A normal bullpen, got through it, good sign. There’s no test for dead arm. You just pitch. It’s not like there’s pain … it’s just a feeling you have. Today was more getting out there, getting my feet under me and going through my normal routine.”

Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images North America

Albert Almora, Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images North America

Much of the talk this Spring has been about top free agent acquisition Jon Lester or top prospect Kris Bryant. Since I did bring up Bryant it’s worth noting that the Cubs plan to start working him out in the outfield this week. But I digress. One prospect who has slipped through the cracks this spring is outfielder Albert Almora.

Almora, 20, is having an outstanding spring training after getting roughed up in the minors last season. His batting line this spring is a video game-like .381/.409/.524. He ended his 2014 campaign in Double-A Tennessee, but expect him to begin 2015 in Triple-A Iowa. He’s perhaps the best center fielder in the organization, but he’s also very emotional and still a little on the raw side as far as his abilities are concerned. He seems much happier and content this spring and it’s translating to on-field success. His hand-eye coordination is as good as it’s ever been and with a little time in Triple-A to work on some mechanics, he shouldn’t expect to be waiting for 2016 to roll around for a shot at the big club.

Wellington Castillo, Photo Credit: Rich Pilling/Getty Images North America

Welington Castillo, Photo Credit: Rich Pilling/Getty Images North America

It’s March 23rd and Welington Castillo is still on the roster. Last week I wrote about a possible trade scenario but I’m guessing that Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer didn’t read that post. The Cubs march ever forward with three catchers still on the roster and manager Joe Maddon is all for it.

For the time being, the roster seems fairly secure, especially with super-sub Arismendy Alcantara on the roster. Having three backstops to begin the season is a blessing in Maddon’s eyes as he mentions the always possible injuries in the game of baseball. “You’re always one injury away from a call up or signing a free agent,” he said. This could bode well for the North Siders not only strategically but also to keep their catchers fresh. Not to mention Castillo (.375) has been hitting better than both Miguel Montero (.167) and David Ross (.250) this spring. But what of the inevitable call up on Kris Bryant? Room will have to be made and I have a feeling it will be a catcher that is sacrificed unless a trade partner can be found in the meantime.

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