Strange problems call for strange solutions.
Jon Lester’s “problem” is his well-documented case of the yips: For whatever reason, the Chicago Cubs pitcher just cannot throw the ball to first base. In the past, Lester would just avoid the issue altogether — he once went two years without attempting a pick-off throw — but this year, he and Cubs third base coach Brian Butterfield are collaborating on a new strategy.
“We’ve been working on the Jordan-to-Pippen bounce pass,” Lester said Sunday, via ESPN.com.
You read that correctly: Lester wants to channel Chicago Bulls stars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and bounce the ball to first base. And he’s actually been practicing the move with Butterfield, who spent several seasons with the pitcher on the Boston Red Sox.
“In (Butterfield’s) words, just eliminate all tension and bounce it over there,” Lester added. “We’ve been working on it early in the morning. … I don’t really care what it looks like. I don’t care if it bounces 72 times over there. An out’s an out.”
Lester even tried the “bounce pass” — which essentially involves him chucking the ball straight into the turf– during Sunday’s spring training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It didn’t go so well.
Lester plans on sticking with his bizarre game plan, though. The 34-year-old says he has practiced throwing bouncers to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and blamed Sunday’s two-base error on his unfamiliarity with fill-in first baseman Efren Navarro.
“I feel bad for the guy today,” Lester said Sunday of Navarro. “He had no idea what’s going on. He’s never been a part of it. With Rizz, probably the surprise wouldn’t have been there.”
We’ll see how this one plays out.
Thumbnail photo via Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports Images
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