FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was 9:30 a.m. when Jon Lester walked out to the mound on Field 1 behind JetBlue Park for his first appearance of spring training.
Only a dozen or so fans were behind the backstop. Teammates Drake Britton, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey were on hand along with Carl Yastrzemski and Dwight Evans. General manager Ben Cherington was another interested spectator.
Lester threw 38 pitches over what amounted to three innings. He faced 13 minor-league hitters and allowed three runs (none earned) on five hits. There was one strikeout and one hit batter.
Lester faced Justin Henry, Carlos Rivero, Manuel Margot, Jesus Loya, and Kendrick Perkins.
Lester was held back a turn in spring training after making five starts and throwing 34.2 innings in the postseason. The simulated game was a way to ease the lefthander into action.
Lester understands why the team is being cautious. But he felt ready to go from the start of camp.
“I don’t like to be put in a bubble like that,” said Lester. “Kind of restricted before anything starts, especially if there’s no physical problems. Might as well go ahead and get after it and get ready for the season.
“Felt fine. Physically today is just getting through the first one. Get some innings and get ready for some real game action.”
Lester threw his fastball, cutter, and curveball and mixed in two changeups.
“I ended up throwing everything,” he said.
Pitching coach Juan Nieves said Lester would start against Tampa Bay on Monday.
“I thought he looked great,” Nieves said. “The ball came out really well. The spin on the breaking ball was very sharp. Bottom line is, as long as they walk off the mound feeling healthy and not grabbing anything, they’re fine.”
Lester said that to his knowledge there is no progress in negotiations on a contract extension with the Red Sox. His agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, spoke to team officials earlier in spring training.
John Lackey will throw a two-inning simulated game Thursday.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.