FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jon Lester is champing at the bit.
The Boston Red Sox left-hander, who threw 38 pitches over 2 2/3 innings in a simulated game Wednesday, has been eased into things this spring training after throwing a career-high 248 innings between the regular season and playoffs last year. Lester said after Wednesday’s sim game that he understands the Red Sox’s approach, but he’s ready to dive into live game action.
“I don’t want to throw those the whole spring,” Lester said. “I think you need to get into a game to get adrenaline and go through your whole routine and not throw at 9:30 in the morning, stuff like that. I think that’s the next step — get on a five-day progression and go from there.”
Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves said Lester is scheduled to start Monday’s spring training contest against the Tampa Bay Rays. The plan is for Lester to throw two innings or 35 pitches in that game.
Lester used his complete repertoire Wednesday while facing Red Sox minor leaguers Justin Henry, Kendrick Perkins, Carlos Rivero, Manuel Margot and Jesus Loya on Field 1 behind JetBlue Park. The lefty said he felt good physically, and he also seemed anxious to take the training wheels off, so to speak.
“I don’t like to be put in a bubble like that — kind of restricted before anything starts — especially if there’s no physical problems,” Lester said. “You might as well go ahead and get after it (and) get ready for the season. I think that’s what gets you in trouble sometimes; just kind of going through the motions of, ‘Oh, it’s spring training. They’re letting me not do everything,’ and then all of a sudden it’s your first start in the season and you’re getting your butt kicked because you’re not ready.”
Lester, who is entering his ninth major league season, clearly isn’t a fan of being brought along slowly despite last year’s heavy workload. However, the two-time All-Star clarified that he definitely sees where the Red Sox are coming from in their spring approach.
“I’m not talking bad about it at all,” Lester said. “I just feel like (sim games) are good in the right times. I think today was the right time, just for the simple fact of getting on a 7:30 (a.m.) bus and going across the state (to Jupiter). But I think we all need to get into games and get that adrenaline and get the defense behind you (and) get a crowd out there and all that, get used to your surroundings and get your feet under you and deal with all that. At the same time, yeah absolutely, you understand the reasons behind what they’re doing with this process.”
John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Drake Britton, Carl Yastrzemski, Dwight Evans and Ben Cherington were among the notable faces in attendance for Lester’s simulated game.