Cubs’ Lester helping pitching coach adapt to new role

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said Tommy Hottovy’s transition from advance scout to pitching coach has been smooth so far.

Hottovy is the third pitching coach in the last three years for the Cubs, but he’s spent four years in the organization, working with pitchers on mechanics and game planning.

“It makes it a lot easier when you have that relationship,” Lester said. “A lot of the stuff we talk about out here, we’ve already talked about.

“He’s just got to adapt to being on the field,” Lester said. “It’s really easy inside and watching on TV but when you’re in the dugout, for all of us, it speeds up sometimes. Hopefully this spring is kind of a good learning curve for him as far as the mound visits and dealing with scheduling and bullpens and all that nonsense and dealing with our attitudes out there. It’s been really smooth getting to this point.”

In his third spring start on Thursday, Lester gave up three runs on four hits, including two homers, over 3 2/3 innings against the Colorado Rockies.

“He made good pitches, had good command,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said. “We were just trying to execute pitches.”

Hottovy most likely already has a list of what he’d like Lester to work on.

“He’s been a big part of the scouting reports, so he knows how we work and what we talk about and what we’re trying to do,” Lester said. “There’s no learning curve. It makes it a lot easier.”

Hottovy has gotten an earful from the Cubs pitchers if the game plan didn’t go well.

“We’ve got to make sure they know it’s their fault sometimes,” Lester joked. “It’s not always our fault — it’s usually the shoes or the glove or a coach, catcher, infielder. It’s never our fault.”

The 35-year-old Lester is adjusting to his role as one of the elder statesmen on the Cubs.

“At first, it’s kind of a hard pill to swallow, especially when you turn around and think you threw a fastball well and it says 90 or 91 (mph) as opposed to 95,” Lester said.

NOTES: Nico Hoerner, the Cubs’ first-round draft pick last June, was the designated hitter on Thursday and went 3-for-3, including an RBI single in his first at-bat. Hoerner was limited to 60 games last season because of an injury. … There have been no wild bears or reggae bands in manager Joe Maddon’s camp this spring. Lester said the diversions break up the monotony of a long season. Stay tuned, though. Lester said the Cubs have already discussed a few theme trips. “What’s cool is he comes to us and asks us our opinions on it,” Lester said of Maddon. “I don’t think there’s been many, if any, that have been turned down.”