FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jon Lester allowed one hit over three scoreless innings in his delayed first spring training start and David Ortiz hit his first home run of the exhibition season Monday as the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2.
Lester pitched 248 innings last year in the regular- and postseason combined, and the Red Sox wanted to bring him along slowly this spring training. He struck out four and walked one against the Rays.
Ortiz homered in the third on the first pitch from reliever Steve Geltz, and Mike Napoli added a solo homer off Erik Bedard in the sixth.
Evan Longoria hit a solo homer on the first pitch from reliever Chris Capuano in the fourth.
Rays starter Jake Odorizzi gave up one run and two hits in 2 1-3 innings.
Red Sox: Lester, who is on track to be the Red Sox opening-day starter, said his spring schedule has been odd but he’s happy with his progress.
“It’s felt a little weird just not being a part of any games, being around the guys,” he said. “I feel like I haven’t seen the guys in about two weeks. So that’s been a little weird. But I feel good so just keep building on that and just try to look forward to the next one.”
Boston Manager John Farrell was satisfied with Lester’s outing.
“A very solid three innings of work,” Farrell said. “Any time Jon Lester walks to the mound it’s a good day.”
Rays: Odorizzi is working on a new pitch, a cross between a splitter and a changeup, which he calls “The Thing.”
“It was OK,” he said. “Nothing crazy good, nothing terrible. It was all right. The first inning was my fault, really. I just kept throwing whatever we’re calling it these days. I kept throwing it and throwing it and got behind just about everybody with it. I didn’t have good feel for it, so instead of abandon it and going to something I know, my slider or something I can throw for a strike, I’m going to keep throwing that right now. That’s my main emphasis.”
Rays Manager Joe Maddon is not worried about the results; he wants Odorizzi to keep throwing his new pitch.
Both Odorizzi and Bedard are candidates for the Rays’ fifth rotation spot. Bedard, who is working on his changeup, went 1 2-3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks with one strikeout.
“The fact that they both came out of it well and healthy, I’m fine with that,” Maddon said.
Rays: Right-hander Joel Peralta, who has been sidelined with a stiff neck, may need a few more days before returning to game activity. … Ben Zobrist, who has also been sidelined with a stiff neck, will need a few more days before returning to game activity. … David DeJesus who has been sidelined with a sore right side is expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday.
Red Sox: Left-hander Craig Breslow, who has been brought along slowly after last season’s increased workload, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday for the first time this spring. … Right-hander Jake Peavy, who has been sidelined since March 1, when he cut his left index finger with a knife, is scheduled to make his first spring start Thursday at the Twins.
Right fielder Shane Victorino, who was being brought along slowly after surgery on his right thumb in December, made his first appearance of the spring. He went 0 for 1 with a run scored and a strikeout.
“The fact that he’s on the field and he’s back in the flow of things, and we’ll build out his progression is a definite positive,” Farrell said.
READY FOR TWO
Grady Sizemore, who is attempting to make a comeback after being away from baseball for more than two years because of injuries went 1 for 3, leading off the game for the Red Sox with a single. He is expected to play Tuesday, the first time in back-to-back games for him this spring.
Wilson Betemit, who served as the Rays designated hitter, played his first game of the spring, going 0 for 2. He had been delayed in the Dominican Republic until March 6 because of visa issues.
“Just coming out of the chute, line drive and a walk from the left side, I liked how he looked physically,” Maddon said.