CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Boston Red Sox brought extra, emergency pitchers to their spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday, including Sea Dogs relievers Caleb Clay, Eammon Portice and Michael Lee.

They were not needed.

Instead, they watched an impressive Jon Lester breeze through seven innings, allowing two hits, no runs and no walks, while striking out 10, in a 6-0 win.

In six of the seven innings, Lester retired the Phillies 1-2-3.

“That speaks for itself,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “I don’t have to describe it. You saw it. It was outstanding.

“The fact that he was ahead of the count, throwing his off-speed pitch down in the zone any time he wanted. His fastball was explosive. That’s pretty good stuff.”


Lester will start the Red Sox season opener in Detroit in nine days. He looks ready.

“Now that I had a good one and got some innings under my belt,” Lester said. “Next time (his last spring start Saturday), we’ll get some more work in … and carry it over (to the season opener).”

In Lester’s previous start, he lasted only three innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing eight hits, two walks and four runs.

“Felt pretty much the same as last time,” Lester said. “I was able to get the ball down in the zone a little more. When you’re able to do that, you get better results.”

Thus the 10 strikeouts.

“Establish that we’re throwing strikes down in the zone and make them swing the bats. Good things will happen, usually,” Lester said. “When I throw that breaking ball in the dirt, they swing at it because everything has been down.”


More than the 10 strikeouts, Lester was pleased with the efficiency. He needed only 88 pitches, throwing 63 strikes.

“More contact early,” he said. “That’s a big step in the right direction.”

Lester’s only hiccup came in the third. Luis Montanez singled to left and Freddy Galvis followed with a double down the left field line. Montanez tried to score from first. Left fielder Cody Ross hurried to the ball and found shortstop Jose Iglesias for the relay. Iglesias delivered a strike to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had plenty of time to apply the tag,

“That was a heck of a play,” Lester said.

Lester also hit Jimmy Rollins in the inning, but without damage. Relying on fastballs, curves and change-ups, Lester retired the last 13 batters he faced.

“He looked real under control,” Saltalamacchia said. “Delivery was real tight. Repeated it every time.”


Wouldn’t Valentine like Lester to repeat that performance April 5?

“Yes, I would,” Valentine said.

* * *

Dustin Pedroia was one of three Red Sox to go deep Monday, along with Cody Ross and Triple-A first baseman Mauro Gomez. Pedroia’s homer was to right field in the first inning off Phillies starter Joe Blanton.

Boston relievers Matt Albers and Ross Ohlendorf each got in their scheduled one inning of work, both facing three batters. Ohlendorf induced a double play after allowing a single.

* * *


Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington “reportedly” disagree about certain players on the roster. There is speculation of a power struggle between the two.

What hasn’t surfaced are any attributions to the speculation.

“I think it’s lazy journalism,” Valentine said. “It’s an easy story to write, that has no validity.”

* * *

While Ryan Lavarnway is putting together a solid spring training, batting .455, he is still likely headed to Pawtucket for more seasoning. Lavarnway, 24, has played only 61 games in Triple-A.

While Valentine won’t say if a decision has been made on Lavarnway staying in the majors, he presented his philosophy on where to place a near-ready prospect.


“There is value being on the major league team, but not if he’s not playing,” Valentine said. “The idea of playing instead of watching — I’m all for that.”

* * *

Nomar Garciaparra was in attendance Monday as part of the ESPN crew. As Garciaparra approached the Red Sox dugout before batting practice, new Boston infielder Nick Punto popped out. He turned his back and pointed to the number.

“Am I making you look good?” Punto asked, showing off the No. 5.

No. 5, of course, was Garciaparra’s number when he played for the Red Sox. Before spring training, Punto gave Garciaparra a courtesy call to let him know he was going to wear his old number.

* * *

Today’s game has the Red Sox back in Fort Myers, facing the Tampa Bay Rays. It is James Shields’ turn to pitch for Tampa Bay, but he will throw in a minor league game instead of facing a intra-division rival. Kyle Farnsworth will start for Tampa Bay. Josh Beckett will start for Boston.

* * *

Iglesias singled in the fourth, ending an 0-for-11 skid … Kevin Youkilis, who was scratched from Sunday’s lineup with a sore back, skipped Monday’s bus ride to Clearwater. He played for Pawtucket back in Fort Myers, going 3-for-4 with two walks … Ross was booed by Phillies fans every at bat, in memory of his three home runs and five RBIs for the Giants against Philadelphia in the 2010 NLCS … Jonathan Papelbon said he was not trying to offend Boston fans when he earlier said Phillies fans know the game better. He said he only meant that the National League style of play requires more thinking (something Papelbon does not always do before speaking).

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