Is it serious or not? Cubs await word on pitcher Jon Lester’s injury

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CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 17: Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs walks off the field after being relieved in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field on August 17, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – As if surrendering  eight runs in just his second inning of work wasn’t bad enough, then came his gesture towards the dugout.

Feeling some pain in his back, Jon Lester asked to be looked at by athletic trainers after a double by Eugenio Suarez gave Cincinnati an 8-0 lead.

Almost immediately, the left-hander walked off the mound with trainers, took a moment to say something to pitching coach Chris Bosio in the dugout, then headed downstairs for locker room.

Eventually it was revealed that it was lower lat tightness in Lester’s back that caused him to leave the game early and made for his second-worst start of the season. Once again, the Cubs now have to wait to hear how long one of their key players is going to be out of the lineup.

“He’s gonna see the doc. I haven’t heard anything specific yet,” said Joe Maddon of Lester after the Cubs’ 13-10 loss to the Reds on Thursday. “Obviously something wasn’t right because, like you saw, the cutters were like were like 84-85 (miles per hour).”

That might explain why Lester was rocked for nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings on Thursday afternoon. He only made 46 pitches before signaling the bench that he was done and putting some more worry into Cubs fans in what has already been a stressful year.

In a season that’s fallen short of expectations, losing Lester for any period of time would deal a major blow even if the pitcher’s not quite having as dominant of a season for the Cubs. Thursday’s game puts Lester at 8-7 for the year with a 4.37 ERA – well below his near Cy Young pace of 2016 when he was 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA and was named the NLCS co-MVP.

“When a pitcher of his stature is potentially injured, of course, you’re a little bit concerned,” said Maddon of Lester. “But I don’t want to jump to conclusions either.”

A few reports have come out indicating that Lester could have time on the disable list. The Chicago Sun Times even reported that the injury could possibly keep him out for a signficant amount of what’s left of the regular season.

Either way, Lester’s lat provides yet another stressful moment in a most unusual season for the Cubs as defending World Series champions.

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