February 24, 2013

SPRING TRAINING: Lester perfect for Sox

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Jon Lester is eager to put last season behind him. His first spring training outing was a good start.

Lester pitched two scoreless, leading the Boston Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.

Lester retired all six batters he faced, striking out one. He needed 24 pitches -- 17 strikes -- to get through the two innings, six in the second. All but one of Lester's pitches were fastballs.

"It was good to go through the whole routine of getting ready for a game, from stuff in (the clubhouse), to a full long toss, stretch, full bullpen, and then obviously get into a game and get up and down a couple times," Lester said.

Lester struggled in 2012, going 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA -- the highest of his career. He's been working to keep his hand on top of the ball during his delivery.

"I was trying to just get my feet under me, get back into the rhythm of pitching, get the ball down in the zone -- all the things we talk about that I didn't do last year," Lester said.

That improvement so far has impressed new manager John Farrell.

"He's made some tangible adjustments in camp, and I think those were started last season, and they've carried over into spring training," Farrell said.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal served as the Cardinals' designated hitter in his first game experience of the spring, and he led off the bottom of the first by lining out to first. He'd later ground out to short.

The 35-year-old is recovering from a strained ligament in his throwing elbow that cut his season short last year. He recently received a cortisone shot in that elbow to help with a painful bone spur.

After the game he said the elbow, "feels good -- a little heavy right now."

Furcal expects it to be at least a few more days before he is able to play the field.

Even without a player expected to appear in the opening-day starting lineup, the Red Sox found enough early offense.

Back-to-back second inning singles from Mauro Gomez and Mark Hamilton put runners on the corners.

Pedro Ciriaco's bloop to center field fell in front of Justin Christian, bringing home the first run. The Red Sox scored another on Jose Iglesias' grounder to second base.

Daniel Descalso got the Cardinals on the board with a solo homer to right in the fifth inning.

Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig made his Grapefruit League debut by pinch hitting for Furcal in the sixth. He lined a broken-bat single up the middle that drove in the Cardinals' second run. He'd come around to score the Cardinals' third run on a sacrifice fly.

Craig has been dealing with a sore shoulder. He missed all of last spring and the first month of the season because of a knee injury but still hit .307 with 22 homers and 92 RBIs.

Daniel Nava went 2 for 3 for the Red Sox.

NOTES: Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright will get his first start of the spring on Monday against Houston. Jaime Garcia draws the start on Tuesday at Boston, with Lance Lynn going on Wednesday at the New York Mets. ... Sunday was originally slated to be Shelby Miller's first start of the spring, but shoulder soreness earlier in the week changed those plans. Miller will throw batting practice on Monday and should make his first start of the spring later in the week. ... Catcher Mike Napoli stayed behind at Boston's Fort Myer's complex and ran the bases. Manager John Farrell said Napoli could get some game at-bats later in the week. He's been dealing with a hip injury. ... Pitcher Clay Buchholz will throw a simulated game on Tuesday and if all goes well will make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday against Minnesota. Buchholz has a slight hamstring problem.

 

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