Jon Lester battled a stiff back Monday night and left the game in visible discomfort with two outs in the 6th inning, but he said after the game that he was feeling better and didn’t expect the issue to linger. He reiterated those same thoughts during Monday’s media availability, adding that he’s still planning to make his scheduled start at home Saturday against the Reds.
“I don’t feel great but I’m going to pitch,” Lester admitted to reporters. “We have good drugs and good doctors.’’
So, like, I know Lester is kind of joking here and I don’t want to turn this into a personal diatribe about the dangers of getting too comfortable with painkillers, but I hope you can understand why talk like this concerns me. It’s also why I feel leagues need to make some serious revisions to their stances on marijuana and derivatives like CBD oil and other cannabinoids.
I’m far from an expert on this stuff, but I do know that it can have great benefits when it comes to pain relief. It’s also a hell a lot less dangerous than the opioids that have so many people in their grasp. So when I hear Lester say something like that, and this is nothing more than my own internal monologue made public, I can’t help but flash to thoughts of Roy Halladay and other athletes who’ve struggled with abuse after during and after their playing days.
Now, it’s entirely possible that Lester is just talking about popping some Aleve and a rolling on a healthy dose of Biofreeze, the official external pain reliever of the Chicago Cubs (now available at all Walgreens locations). Or maybe he’ll get cortisone shot, provided the back stiffness can’t develop into something worse.
The good news, and the only thing we can say for sure, is that maintaining his spot in the rotation means the training staff is comfortable with him going out there on regular rest. But circumstances could yet conspire to give Lester more of a break.
Mike Montgomery is currently slated to start Thursday’s rescheduled affair in DC, the one that MLB has so far refused to push back despite the entire region being in a state of emergency due to Hurricane Florence. Barring a miraculous shift in the weather, there’s no way the Cubs will be flying east to play that game.
If that’s the case, the Cubs could give Lester a few more days off or skip his spot in the rotation entirely. Montgomery would be pushed to Friday, with Cole Hamels and Kyle Hendricks taking the weekend starts. Lester could then go Monday in Arizona or could even be pushed back one more day in favor of Jose Quintana.
No matter which angle you view it from, getting that day off — which shouldn’t even be a topic of conversation, yet here we are — would be huge for the Cubs and Lester. And I have to think it’s going to work out that way.