JUPITER, Fla. – Jon Lester threw two scoreless, hitless innings vs. the Cardinals at Russell Dean Stadium Sunday in his first spring training outing.
Lester, who threw 24 pitches, faced the minimum six batters with one strikeout (of Carlos Beltran). He threw only six pitches in the second inning, but didn’t mind the lack of work.
“I’ll never complain of a quick inning in spring training,” Lester said. “The quicker I get back to the dugout the better.”
Lester said he threw all fastballs and one changeup. He feels throwing a lot of fastball’s will increase his arm strength and he’ll gradually start to interject more off-speed pitches as time goes on.
“I was trying to get my feet under me; keeping the ball down in the zone. Being two innings when it works, it’s great to pound fastballs. That was our goal today got some work in,” he said.
Lester is undergoing a restoration of his 2010 stuff (19-9, 3.25 ERA) which he started at midseason last year. After a tough July he said he felt he got back to his better habits in August and September and continued to work things out in the offseason.
Manager John Farrell talked about getting Lester back to throwing on a downward plane.
“The simplest way to describe it is my hand is on top of the ball rather than the wrist being underneath the ball and pushing the ball. And that was something we fell into last year with a whole bunch of things we don’t have time to get into that created that pushing of the ball,” Lester explained.
“When I can get my arm up and get my hand on top of the ball, that creates a downward plane. I can get the ball to the thigh and knee area with good angle and it has a little bit extra on when it gets to home plate. That’s what we’re looking for. You’re going to have a misfire now and then. Sometimes you can go out there and be locked in with everything and throw your hat and glove out there and you have mechanics, location, and angle and some games you have to fight pitch to pitch. In those 30 starts you only have one or two when you throw your hat and glove and the rest you’re grinding through,” Lester added.
He said he’s tried to learn as much as he can from a bad season, but he doesn’t want any more education.
“I think anytime you can learn a lot from things that don’t go your way. I don’t like not having a good season. I don’t like going out there every five days and getting my ass kicked. I like to win. I don’t know if sucking sets you up for a good season. I mean if it does, great. I don’t want to do it again. I think it humbles you.
“The big thing is the embarrassment of not being me and getting back to the stupid stuff that you forget about when you’re in the minor leagues,” Lester said.
He said he does want to embrace the role of the ace. He said he won’t lobby for it, but he wants to be the best and he hopes if his teammates rally around him he can live up to those expectations.