Lester tunes up before leaving for Japan
Left-hander looks dominant in outing against Minor Leaguers
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In his final Florida tuneup before the regular season, left-hander Jon Lester, the lone member of the Red Sox's traveling roster who did not fly with the team to Japan on Wednesday, pitched five innings of a Double-A instrasquad game at the Minor League complex.
Lester threw 58 pitches, 42 for strikes. He did not allow a hit, and struck out eight, including the final six batters he faced.
With his outing over, Lester went to the bullpen to get his pitch total up to 80.
"I guess [the outing] served its purpose, more or less," Lester said. "[I] got my pitch count up, got the innings, got the work. I would have liked to have been on the plane with the team [to Japan], obviously. I'd like to have traveled with them, but it's all right."
Lester, 24, made his Major League debut on June 10, 2006, less than three months before a cancer diagnosis. Last Spring Training, he was nearly 25 pounds lighter due to radiation treatments. Although he is still trying to figure out what a typical Spring Training is, he figures he is right where he needs to be.
"It's been a while since I had a normal Spring Training," he said. "Two years ago, I was on a lot of pitch counts, and all that. And last year was obviously not normal. So, as far as I remember, this is normal."
Lester will fly out from Florida early Friday morning and arrive in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon. He is scheduled to pitch the second game of the regular season on Wednesday against Oakland.
Lester, who is flying solo to Tokyo, said he wasn't sure how he would pass the 17-hour flight.
"I have no idea," he said. "They wanted the team to stay awake and they want me to go to sleep because [I leave in the morning and arrive in the afternoon, Tokyo time]. So they want me to take a couple of Ambien and get knocked out, and hopefully that'll take up most of the flight. Then wake up about three hours before we land and start moving around a little bit. So that's the plan right now. I got some movies I'm taking with me and a day bag. So, hopefully, it'll all work out."
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.