jon lesterDavid Ortiz reportedly is closing in on a contract extension with the Boston Red Sox. Jon Lester might not be too far behind.

Lester told reporters in Clearwater, Fla., on Friday that while he isn’t exactly closing in on a deal with the Red Sox, he is optimistic about the way conversations between the two sides have gone thus far.

“I know they’ve been pretty busy with dealing with David’s stuff and all that,” Lester said. “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. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

The Red Sox will need to shell out some dough to keep Lester, who would be one of the top free-agent pitchers available if he hit the open market next offseason. But Lester has stated he’s open to accepting a hometown discount, and the left-hander said Friday he’s willing to continue negotiations into the regular season if the two sides start nearing a deal this spring.

“If you’re at the 5-yard line and you’re kind of closing in on the thing then, yeah, you’ll just spill it over,” Lester said. “But if we’re so far apart and it still doesn’t matter, then I think we’ll sit down and talk about it and see what the best interests are for both sides on that. But as of right now, things are progressing and we’ll just keep hashing it out and see where it goes.”’s Rob Bradford reported Friday that nothing is imminent in Lester’s contract talks. Lester essentially confirmed that report while also reinforcing his optimism.

“Not in the red zone right now,” Lester said. “No, no, definitely not there. But I think it’s going in the right direction. We’ve had good dialogue so that’s good.”

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