SARASOTA, Fla. -- Working on three days rest, Jon Lester allowed one run, one hit and three walks while striking out three over a 66-pitch, four-inning outing, including 37 strikes, as the Red Sox beat the Orioles, 6-1.
Lester was helped out in the first inning after allowing an RBI single to Matt Wieters when Ryan Sweeney threw out Wieters, who was attempting to stretch the single into a double. He worked out of trouble in the second after issuing consecutive walks with a strikeout and a ground out.
Lester was pleased about working with his cutter. He said once he established it in the second inning, it allowed him to “get locked back in back to where I wanted to be as far as my foot getting down and my arm being in the right spot.” Lester called the cutter he threw to Jai Miller to record the strikeout the key pitch for him “getting back over to my front side.”
He had good stuff and he had to make adjustments in that part of the inning and it seemed like the ball over on that cut side of the plate wasn’t being called at all and he had to make an adjustment to the arm side of the plate and he did,” manager Bobby Valentine said.
Lester was happy about pitching in a regular major league game after starting out the spring with an exhibition against Northeastern and tossing in a “B” game.
“It was a little more realistic, getting the crowd atmosphere and facing their everyday lineup was nice," Lester said. "You could tell the kind of different at-bats they were putting together as opposed to what they were doing in a 'B' game as far as working the count.”
Getting reacquainted: Lester discussed working with batterymate Kelly Shoppach for the first time since the two came up in the Boston organization together from 2002-05, saying it has been nice to throw to a former teammate again.
“I remember throwing to him back when I was a kid," Lester said. "He's done a great job trying to learn everybody and get on the same page with everyone. He’s trying to get back used to me. I'm trying to get back used to him, trying to establish a rhythm.”
Shoppach said the biggest difference he’s seen in Lester from seven years ago is his growth as a person.
“He went through a lot of stuff in his life, which might be more important than anything he has done on the field," Shoppach said. "When you grow up in another way than the game, you tend to understand the reality of this game and not take it for granted and appreciate every opportunity.”
Time check: Lester joked about having to have “14 alarms set” to make sure he didn’t miss the bus because of the switch to daylight savings time.
Cook solid in debut: Aaron Cook, signed by the Red Sox to a minor-league deal in January, made his spring debut, tossing two scoreless innings in which he walked two batters, had a strikeout and induced four ground-ball outs, indicative of what he can do with his trademark sinker. His sinker, which Valentine said had great movement and was in the 89- to 90-m.p.h. range, impressed the Red Sox skipper.
“With those two innings under his belt, those days when he’ll be able to help us seem to be not so far away,” Valentine said.
Iglesias (groin) gets day off: Valentine said Jose Iglesias, who was scheduled to make the trip to play in a “B” game prior to the regular game, was held back due to a stiff right groin he suffered March 5 against the Twins. Valentine said Iglesias is “ready,” but he will hold him out of any games until “probably after the off-day,” which is on Wednesday. ... Dustin Pedroia appears to be in regular-season form, with two hard hits in three at-bats. His single to right in the first inning helped Nate Spears advance to second and allowed Ryan Sweeney to plate him with a single three batters later. Pedroia added a two-run double to left-center in the second inning. Pedroia now has a .417 batting average in the spring. ... Valentine said Andrew Miller (elbow stiffness) threw a flat-ground session on Sunday and will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. He expects Miller to be back to his regular routine after the bullpen session. ... Carl Crawford (wrist) had another full day of activity and Valentine said the Red Sox outfielder feels good about his throwing. “He’s just about ready, but don’t want to say when,” Valentine said.