Lester on contract talks: 'Making progress'

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Following Friday's contest with the Philadelphia Phillies, Jon Lester may have used a different sports metaphor, but apparently he is closer to signing a new deal with the Red Sox.

"We're headed in the right direction," Lester said when talking to the media after tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings at Bright House Field. "We're making progress. Not in the red zone right now, definitely not there. We've had good dialogue so that's good."

Lester completed a five-year, $30 million contract last season, but the Red Sox held and exercised a 2014 club option for $13 million. He'll be a free agent at the end of this year if an extension doesn't materialize.

"It's a tough process, but we'll keep grinding it out," said Lester, who has one scheduled spring outing left before the team breaks camp eight days from now.

Lester, who is represented by ACES (founded by agents Seth and Sam Levinson), apparently would continue talking with the front office even if the two sides have not come to an agreement before Opening Day.

"I think that's something you need to discuss when you get to that point," Lester said when asked if he would shut down talks until the end of the regular season. "When you're at the 5-yard line and you're kind of closing in on the thing, just spill it over. If we're so far apart and it doesn't matter, then yeah, we'll sit down and discuss it and see what the best interest is for both sides. But as of right now, things are progressing. Keep hashing it out."