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Watch: Jon Lester picks off a runner for the first time since 2015


Call it the yips, call it nerves, a mental block or control issues. One thing is clear: When Cubs’ left-hander Jon Lester isn’t throwing at the strike zone, he looks completely lost. Routine plays to first base often end up missing their mark, and when it comes to pickoff attempts — well, he gave those up a while ago.

Saturday was different. With two outs in the fifth inning, Lester walked the Cardinals’ Tommy Pham and had started pitching to Stephen Piscotty when Pham took a generous lead off the bag. There was no stealth in Lester’s game — he turned slowly and lobbed the ball at Anthony Rizzo, who caught Pham off the base — but after two years without successfully executing a single pickoff throw, maybe he didn’t need it.

According to’s Carrie Muskat, it was Lester’s first pickoff move since September 2015, and just the 27th of his 12-year career. Watch the full play unfold below:

Jeff Samardzija to undergo MRI on right shoulder

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Giants starter Jeff Samardzija will undergo an MRI on his ailing right shoulder, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. The right-hander struggled in a minor league game on Wednesday, surrendering a pair of home runs and hitting a batter. Overall this spring, Samardzija has given up 15 runs (13 earned) on 17 hits (six homers) and seven walks with seven strikeouts in 11 innings.

This may mean Samardzija won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. Derek Holland would likely replace Samardzija in the rotation. Holland had been competing for the No. 5 spot in the Giants’ rotation.

Samardzija led the National League in losses last season with 15, also posting a 4.42 ERA with a 205/32 K/BB ratio in a league-high 207 2/3 innings. Since becoming a starter, Samardzija has been able to avoid injury, making 32 or 33 starts in each of the last five seasons.