Prior to tonight, new Cubs left-hander Jon Lester hadn’t made a pickoff throw to first base since April 30, 2013. That’s right, nearly two years. If you watch the video linked here, you’ll know why.
Here’s a look at the aftermath of pickoff throw in the second inning tonight:
Anthony Rizzo is lucky he didn’t get seriously hurt here. He ran into the runner’s path back to first base and could have injured his knee. Fortunately, Jorge Soler bailed out Lester with a fantastic throw to nail Zack Cozart at third base. Lester and the Cubs keep trying to downplay any talks of him having the “yips” with pickoff throws, but teams are going to keep running on him until he finds a way to combat it.
By the way, Lester gave up six runs on 10 hits over six innings against the Reds tonight. His ERA sits at 7.84 through two starts with Chicago.
Correction: This was Lester’s second pickoff throw of the game. The initial version of this post indicated that this was his first. My apologies for the error.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.