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Red Sox Notebook

Lester works on his moves

Wants to improve throwing to first

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 27, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Jon Lester was the only pitcher on one of the practice fields yesterday morning, standing on the mound and sneaking glances at teammates leading off first base.

Sometimes Lester threw to the plate, other times he wheeled and threw to first. Manager Bobby Valentine and several coaches watched closely, adjusting the lefthander’s footwork and timing his delivery.

“Now you’re getting it, Jon,’’ Valentine said at one point. “Keep working at it.’’

Lester is one of the best in the game at throwing the ball to the plate. But when he throws to first base, it can be an adventure. Sometimes the ball is in the dirt, other times it’s high and away.

For a lefthander, he’s far too easy to run on. It’s one of the notes Valentine made this winter when he reviewed game tapes, and spring training is the time to get it corrected.

“His actual technique is what was being worked on,’’ Valentine said. “That would be his ability to disguise to the runner when he’s coming to first and when he’s going home. Today was mainly his bottom half, his leg movement and closing the gap a little.

“He also has a thing about throwing to first, about his confidence in firing it over there. Repetitions hopefully will cure some of those ills and get rid of some of those demons.’’

Lester, who allowed 12 stolen bases in 26 attempts last season, was gone for the day by the time reporters were allowed in the clubhouse.

Victory is theirs

A day after owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner were at JetBlue Park for the first full-squad workout, they were at Wembley Stadium to see their English Premier League soccer team, Liverpool, beat Cardiff City, 3-2, on penalty kicks for the Carling Cup.

It was the first trophy Liverpool has won since Henry purchased the team in 2010.

Henry said Saturday that he talked with Werner and team president Larry Lucchino about the Red Sox “365 days a year’’ and was not distracted by his other holdings.

Staying the course

Up the road in Port Charlotte, Rays manager Joe Maddon said his team would continue to provide beer in the clubhouse. On Saturday, the Red Sox became the 19th team in the majors to ban alcohol.

“We’re not the Boston Red Sox,’’ Maddon told reporters. “I’ve said it a hundred times. For me, at the end of the day, I’d much prefer our players making good decisions, and if you’re of legal age, and the game is over, and you’ve sweated and lost a bunch of pounds and you want to sit down and have a beer, I see nothing wrong with that.’’

Bailey strains lat

Closer Andrew Bailey had a few days off because of a strained lat muscle. He was injured while being tested for his vertical leap. “Nothing that he wouldn’t pitch with if this was the season,’’ Valentine said. “But we’ve given him a couple of extra days. He seems to be ready.’’ . . . Josh Beckett, who was working on his changeup, faced Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez during live batting practice. That drew a large crowd of fans . . . Mike Aviles received a few frantic calls from friends Saturday night when a Twitter-born rumor said he had been traded to Tampa Bay. It turns out somebody was impersonating Aviles on the social network. “You really need a life if you’re impersonating me,’’ Aviles said. “I had no idea what was going on.’’ The Red Sox are seeking to have the account closed down . . . When Valentine was discussing Jacoby Ellsbury, he mentioned having managed Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, another leadoff hitter with power. “The first conversation I ever had with Rickey was that I would never ask him to hit anywhere else. He said, ‘That’s good, because Rickey’s a good leadoff hitter.’ ’’ Later that same day, Henderson told Valentine not to bother giving him signs.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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