Jon Lester faces off with minor leaguers in first spring training outing

Rob Bradford
March 05, 2014 - 5:40 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jon Lester got through his first spring training appearance without incident, throwing 38 pitches over 2 2/3 innings on a back field at JetBlue Park against five minor league hitters. With Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves and some members of the team's front office looking on, Lester participated in the controlled exercise with minor league fielders. The lefty would allow four hits, while being victimized by a pair of errors. Lester was also hit in the heel by a Justin Henry grounder, which he showed no ill effects from. "I thought he looked great," Nieves said. "Of course it's tough competition with those kids. You can't set them up, they're seeing strikes so it's quite a challenge. As we were talking in the dugout, you can't really set them up with anything. It's tough when a big league pitcher pitches against young competition because they're very excited and they're swinging the bats. "I thought the ball came out very well. Fastball, cutter, curveball. He threw no changeups, but the spin of the breaking ball is really sharp, very good. He felt great. The bottom line is as long as they walk off of that mound healthy, not grabbing anything or not touching anything they're fine." Nieves pointed out that Lester will next throw in the Red Sox' Monday tilt against Tampa Bay, most likely going a pair of innings. The five minor-leaguers hitting against Lester were Carlos Rivero, Manuel Margot, Jesus Loya, Kendrick Perkins and Henry. Margot (who doubled) is the most highly-touted of the bunch, most likely slated to start 2014 in Single-A Greenville. Perkins -- who came away with a pair of hits -- is a sixth-round pick fro the 2010 draft who chose to sign with the Sox instead of playing football at the University of Texas.