Lester 'almost too strong' in simulated game

Lester 'almost too strong' in simulated game
March 7, 2011, 6:29 pm
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By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. With Josh Beckett, manager Terry Francona, and general manager Theo Epstein among the onlookers, watching from behind the batting practice backstop, Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester pitched three innings of a simulated game before the Red Sox game against the Orioles at City of Palms Park Monday. Lester missed his scheduled start Sunday, against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, because of illness.

Working on the back field, Lester threw to five Red Sox minor leaguers including right-handed hitters Oscar Tejeda, Hector Luna, Che-Hsuan Lin, and Ryan Lavarnway, and left-handed hitter Nate Spears. He started each batter with a 1-1 count. Unofficially, he threw 49 pitches (46 to batters and three additional), with five strikeouts, four walks and a hit. Tejeda singled with one out in the second inning.

Hes strong. He said he almost felt too strong, which is good, Francona said. You never really get to be that close to him when hes pitching. His stuff is amazing, that cutter and two-seamer. When you get to actually sit right behind the cage there, it's fun to watch.

Lester, who said he is recovered from the flu-like symptoms that hit him over the weekend, was satisfied with his outing, able to get in enough work to maintain his spring training progression.

Yeah, I think so, he said. Worked on a few things. Started today with something Im not really used to, with a 1-and-1 count. So I had to pitch a little bit differently. But I think everything went well. Felt good. Felt almost too good. But, yeah, everythings fine as far as physically and keeping the energy and keeping the delivery in the third inning.

Lester is expected to make his next start Friday against the Twins at Hammond County Stadium. The Sox have split-squad games that day, against the Twins and against the Astros in Kissimmee. A start that day would keep Lester on schedule to start Opening Day on April 1 in Texas, with an extra day off the week before.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen