Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester throws against the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a spring training baseball game Monday, March 16, 2015, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
Lenny Ignelzi
March 21, 2015

MESA, Ariz. (AP) Chicago Cubs starter Jon Lester missed his start Saturday against the Seattle Mariners because of a tired arm, but manager Joe Maddon expects the left-hander to make his next start in the rotation.

Lester, who signed a six-year, $155-million deal in the offseason, said it's just part of the preparation for the season.

''It's part of throwing, getting used doing this every five days,'' Lester said. ''It's nothing to be alarmed about. We just had the option to take the time and we are taking that right now.''

The 31-year-old was tagged for six runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings in his start against the San Diego Padres on Monday. He said his ''dead arm'' situations have happened either while throwing bullpens soon after arriving or before spring training ends or into the regular season.

''I think it is an every year thing for every pitcher,'' he said. ''It's nothing out of the ordinary. It's usually something I go through a little earlier or usually a little bit later, during the first part of the season.''

Maddon wasn't concerned when he talked about it on Friday. If all goes as expected, Lester will make his regular turn in the rotation on Thursday.

''More than likely, will not miss the start right after that,'' Maddon said. ''But we wanted to be very cautious with it right now. And at this point, it doesn't impact opening day.''

Lester said he wasn't sure of the specific plan just yet.

''I hadn't mapped it out or sat down with Boz (pitching coach Chris Bosio) on that,'' he said. ''I have some work to do today and that's all I know. We will plan accordingly to that and I would imagine everything is fine for Thursday.''

While there's been weekly news about a pitcher needing surgery, Lester has been pretty healthy.

''I don't know? Luck?'' he said about his durability. ''We all have things that we deal with through the season that come up and I have been fortunate enough to kind of minimize those things to where I am able to pitch. If I had an answer, I would give it those guys who struggle being healthy.''

Lester is the ace of the rotation on a team with high expectations. His signing indicated the Cubs front office was ready to make a push as a contender.

Lester has never missed a start since reaching the big leagues in 2007, making at least 31 starts every year. So news of any kind, regardless of significance, for a struggling franchise about its ace may cause concern.

''It's nothing to be alarmed about, and we are able to use that time right now,'' he said. ''There is no point in trying to grind through it right now. These games don't mean anything.''

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