MESA, Ariz. — For Jon Lester, it was just the beginning of the road to opening day. Nothing more, nothing less.

Lester pitched two scoreless innings Friday in his spring debut with the Chicago Cubs, who lost 5-2 to the Cincinnati Reds.

The veteran left-hander got Billy Hamilton to fly out to right leading off the game, and then struck out Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce – all swinging. He broke Chris Dominguez’s bat on a one-out single in the second, and Kristopher Negron followed with a double-play grounder.

“It was all right,” Lester said. “Tempo was good, I felt good about that. Just ball was up a little bit for me. I threw a couple good cutters, but like I said, first one, got some jitters, amped up and all that stuff, so ball’s going to be up a little bit. But got some stuff done in the bullpen as far as fixing that. Like I said, now it’s time to build off that.”

Lester was one of the top free agents in the offseason, and opted for a $155 million, six-year contract with Chicago. He went 16-11 with a career-low 2.46 ERA in 32 starts with Boston and Oakland last season.

The Cubs finished with a losing record in each of the last five years, but they begin this season with high expectations following an active winter – highlighted by the big deal with Lester.

“If you’re not expecting yourself to win, then why are you playing the game?” said Lester, who also will get the ball for the first regular-season game against St. Louis. “I don’t show up to lose. That’s definitely not something I enjoy.”