Boston Red Sox alumni over the years have flocked back to Fort Myers, Fla., during spring training to lend a helping hand.

Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz routinely make appearances at spring camp to offer instruction and guidance. The two were there Thursday along with another former star, who won two World Series titles during his time with the Red Sox.

Jon Lester, who retired in January 2022 after a stellar 16-year MLB career, made a surprise visit to Red Sox spring training, almost a decade after last taking the mound for the franchise.

“It’s a little weird. I won’t lie,” Lester told reporters, per MassLive’s Christopher Smith. “Just being on this side of it is a little different. Getting to see kind of how all the coaches and staff prepare for the day. I never got to see that side of the game. So a little weird but cool. It’s a fun experience to be around the guys, see how everything’s kind of run down here now. Everything’s so different than just a few short years ago. It’s pretty cool.”

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Lester will be around his former team for a few days serving as an instructor. He was a homegrown product of the Red Sox and the left-handed pitcher spent the first eight-plus seasons of his big league career with Boston. He compiled a 110-63 record over that span with a 3.64 ERA and made two All-Star appearances.

Lester’s tenure with the Red Sox came to an end midway through the 2014 season when Boston dealt him to the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline.

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The southpaw’s time with Oakland was short-lived as he hit free agency following the season and signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs. Lester thrived with the Cubs, helping Chicago win a World Series as well.

After six seasons with the Cubs, Lester’s final campaign in the majors in 2021 was split pitching for the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals. But despite his journey elsewhere, Lester still is very appreciative of his time spent with the Red Sox.

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“Any time you get to be part of this organization, it’s pretty cool,” Lester said. “I’ve obviously grown up and matured since leaving in ’14. With that, you understand that this game sucks sometimes on the business side of things. And when you’re in the moment, it can be difficult. It can be hard to understand why certain things happen and what was maybe going their minds or whatever.

“But the further you kind of get away from the situation, you grow up and mature and realize, ‘Hey, this game, as beautiful as it is, the business gets in the way sometimes.’ I was, I guess, a product of that. But to be back and to be invited here, it’s pretty special. Obviously the history and my history here and being a part of this organization is pretty cool.”

It’s unclear if coaching will ever be in Lester’s future. But the 40-year-old jumped at the chance to come to Red Sox camp though when his former teammate and chief baseball officer Craig Breslow extended an invite.

“I think ultimately when you’re done playing, you still want to be part of something,” Lester said.

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Featured image via Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images