Lester pitched two scoreless innings and allowed just one hit while striking out three in a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds in Cactus League action. A total of 15,331 fans were in attendance, an MLB spring training record.
The 31-year-old lefthander came to the Cubs with plenty of hype after spurning his former team, the Boston Red Sox, to sign a six-year, $155 million contract with Chicago this offseason. He certainly lived up to expectations Friday, throwing 20 of his 24 pitches for strikes. Lester allowed one just one baserunner on a broken-bat single from Reds minor-league third baseman Chris Dominguez and struck out Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce in succession between the first and second innings.
Lester also had a familiar batterymate in catcher David Ross, who followed Lester to the Cubs in the offseason after serving as his personal catcher in Boston.
“It’s always good when you have comfort, when you see comfort, when you feel comfort,” Lester said of Ross, via ESPN. “That’s something you fall back on.”
Lester is part of a young yet talented Cubs team that is hoping to break a brutal stretch of five consecutive seasons with less than 80 wins. After his outing, he told reporters the bar is high.
“Time to grow up sometime,” Lester said. “When I played in Boston we didn’t have time to grow up. You just had to show up and play. Each year we were expected to win. That’s how I feel. Every year they should come in and expect to be not only division winners but world champs. If you don’t, you’re playing for the wrong reasons.”
Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images
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