Aaron Gleeman

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Cubs scratch Jon Lester from start with “dead arm”

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Gearing up for the first season of a six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs, left-hander Jon Lester has been scratched from his scheduled Saturday start with what the team is calling a “dead arm period.”

“Dead arm” is the phrase pitchers and teams tend to use when something clearly isn’t right but there also isn’t a clearcut injury to be found, so it’s typically viewed as relatively minor until proven otherwise. In this case Cubs manager Joe Maddon expressed confidence that Lester will be able to take his next turn in the rotation and make the Opening Day start as planned.

Lester has basically been injury free for the bulk of his career, starting 31 or more games every season since 2008. That includes 32 starts and 220 innings for the Red Sox last year.

Glen Perkins cleared for spring training debut

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Glen Perkins’ comeback from last season’s September arm problems has been delayed by an oblique strain, but the Twins closer has finally been cleared to make his spring training debut.

Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Perkins will pitch Saturday against the Orioles. He’s previously worked in some minor-league games, so Perkins should have enough time to get ready for the season.

Prior to the late-season injury Perkins had a 2.44 ERA and 64/9 K/BB ratio in 55 innings, saving 32 games.

Twins send pitching prospect Alex Meyer to Triple-A

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Alex Meyer’s bid for an Opening Day spot on Minnesota’s pitching staff was unsuccessful, as the Twins have sent the 25-year-old right-hander to Triple-A.

Meyer is a former first-round draft pick and consensus top-100 prospect three years in a row, but he’s also already 25 years old and spent all of last season at Triple-A. For some context: He’s just five months younger than Madison Bumgarner, who’s thrown more than 1,000 innings for the Giants and was the World Series MVP.

By sending Meyer to Triple-A for a second go-around following spring training control problems the Twins are all but committed to either Mike Pelfrey or Tommy Milone as their fifth starter, with the loser of the rotation competition likely going to the bullpen as a long reliever.

Domonic Brown has had an Achilles’ tendon injury “for a couple weeks”

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Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown left Thursday’s game with soreness in his Achilles’ tendon and afterward revealed that the injury has been bothering him for about two weeks.

They’re saying tendinitis. … I feel pretty good at the plate. I don’t want to miss any time, but this is part of the game, also. I’m definitely frustrated for sure. It seemed like we were going in the right direction, it was getting a little bit better.

It’s particularly frustrating for Brown because he’s trying to bounce back following a very rough 2014 that saw his OPS drop nearly 200 points compared to his All-Star campaign of 2013. He’s scheduled to undergo further testing on the injury.

Joe Maddon on Javier Baez: “Of course, there’s a chance he doesn’t make the team”

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Javier Baez has been penciled in as the Cubs’ starting second baseman, but manager Joe Maddon made it pretty clear that the job is hardly being handed to him.

Maddon told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:

Of course, there’s a chance he doesn’t make the team. There’s no lock in regard to that. I talked about the entitlement program. It doesn’t exist. Everything has to be earned.

Baez has lots of long-term potential as a middle infielder with 30-homer power, but he struck out a ton in the minors and then hit .169 with 95 strikeouts in his 52-game debut for the Cubs. Those struggles have continued this spring, which is why it might be Tommy La Stella or Arismendy Alcantara playing second base on Opening Day while the 22-year-old Baez tries to get on track back at Triple-A.

At the same time, Maddon also made it clear that he realizes the strikeouts and out-of-control swings are part of the overall package that contains Baez’s big-time power potential, saying: “I think it bothers the fans more than it bothers me.”