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Jon Lester says contract talks progressing

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester pitches in the first inning of an exhibition baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Fort Myers, Fla., Saturday, March 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

AP

Jon Lesterwent 15-8 in 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Red Sox ace Jon Lester threw 5 2/3 shutout innings against the Phillies on Friday, then spoke candidly when asked if a new contract could be signed before the start of the regular season.

“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “I know they’ve been pretty busy dealing with [David Ortiz] and all that. It’s a negotiation. No matter how optimistic people are about it, it’s a tough process. We’ll keep grinding it out and see where we get.”

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Lester feels progress has been made.

“I think so. I think we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.

The lefthander’s confidence is such that he is willing to continue talking to the team once the season starts.

“That’s something you need to discuss when you get to that point. If you’re at the 5 yard line and you’re kind of closing in on a thing, yeah, let’s just spill it over. But if we’re so far apart that it still doesn’t matter then I think we’ll sit down and talk about it and see what the best interest is for both sides on that. But as of right now, things are progressing and I guess we’ll just keep hashing it out.”

Lester suggested nothing is imminent, but described the sides as having “good dialogue.”

Lester’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, could not be reached for comment. They have been in Fort Myers several times to meet with the Sox. The Levinsons negotiated an eight-year, $110 million extension with Dustin Pedroia last season.

This deal could more complicated given the value of starting pitching on the current market. Lester has said he is willing to take a discount to stay with the Red Sox. But he could command a deal in the range of five years and $110 million.

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