Jon Lester has no time for “yips” chatter.
Lester, who hasn’t attempted a pickoff throw since 2013, has long struggled with throwing to bases. The left-hander was pressed on the topic Wednesday and responded by downplaying the issue.
“It must have been a slow news day and they wanted to talk about it,” Lester told reporters, via ESPNChicago.com. “It’s something that’s getting blown out of proportion right now. There’s nothing to talk about at the beginning of the year.”
Curt Schilling, who pitched alongside Lester for two seasons with the Boston Red Sox (2006-07), criticized Lester’s “yips” during Sunday night’s ESPN broadcast of the Chicago Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals game. Lester, who signed a $155 million contract with the Cubs over the offseason, seemed unwilling to throw over to first base despite the Cardinals frequently taking huge leads off the bag.
Opponents stole 16 bases in 21 chances against Lester last season. It isn’t a monstrous number, but one can’t help but wonder whether he’ll be tested more now that he’s pitching in the National League.
Either way, Lester isn’t too concerned.
“I really didn’t have to do it over the past year or so,” Lester told reporters. “Coming over here is a little bit different, more runners, part of the game. Something we’ll implement.
“This was not a big issue until someone brought it up on television. Now I’m sitting answering questions about it.”
For now, Lester can fend off questions surrounding his apparent unwillingness to use pickoff throws. But until the 31-year-old starts unleashing more throws, and accurate throws, the skepticism will persist.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images