3/15/2014 10:46 P.M. ET
Lester makes a striking second impression
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jon Lester has two Grapefruit League starts left before he takes the ball in Baltimore for real on March 31. Judging by Saturday night's effort against the Phillies, the lefty will be more than ready when the bell rings.
Making his second spring start, Lester fired four strong innings, giving up two hits and a run. He walked one and struck out five.
"I felt healthy and got the pitch count up and threw a lot of strikes, which is good," said Lester. "I had some battles deep in the count. It was good. Pitched with some runners on, pitched out of some jams. All in all, it was good."
If not for some location struggles in the first, Lester likely would have pitched into the fifth. But his overall mission was accomplished on a night he threw 68 pitches.
"That first inning kind of killed me," said Lester. "I would've liked to have gone into the fifth and save some pitches there. The biggest thing is just getting up and down, getting your pitch count and staying healthy. Those are our goals during Spring Training, just keep working on fastball command and you take care of that the rest will take care of itself."
Lester's next start will be Thursday against the Yankees.
"I just try to use this time to prepare," Lester said. "The biggest thing is to be healthy going into the season. If they want to get me up to 85, 90, 100 pitches in my next two, that's fine. I'll go out there and do it and hopefully be ready for the season."
Farrell: Bradley Jr. still the favorite in center
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Though Grady Sizemore has impressed everyone with his camp thus far, manager John Farrell indicated on Saturday that Jackie Bradley Jr. is still the favorite to be the team's Opening Day center fielder.
"We came into camp with Jackie as the guy," Farrell said. "We projected him as the starting center fielder, and I don't think anything has radically changed that thought. But we can't deny the thought that Grady Sizemore has looked very well in camp."
Sizemore hasn't played in the Majors since 2011, so there are questions that still need answers.
"We're still in the process of trying to get our arms around his durability," said Farrell. "We'll extend him a little bit [Saturday night], where he's going to go, maybe seven or eight innings, possibly a full game, so we're starting to get a little more of a test, and maybe answers to some of those tests."
Sizemore wound up playing eight innings against the Phillies on Saturday and went 1-for-4. He will take Sunday off and probably return to action on Monday against the Cardinals.
"I didn't think much of it, just another game," Sizemore said. "But everything felt good, started off feeling good, finished feeling good, so see how I come in tomorrow and build off of that."
The way the roster is currently constructed, it would be hard for both Sizemore and Bradley to make the team.
"I can't say we wouldn't do that," Farrell said. "But there's also limits to the roster. And I think the one thing I have said many times, the one thing we've benefited from is a deep and talented roster. Early in the season, you want as many of those players as you can. If that causes decisions one way or the other to keep the many good players you have, that's something we'll arrive at before we break here."
While it's certainly possible the Red Sox could see if Sizemore was interested in playing in extended Spring Training, that scenario hasn't been discussed yet in any formal capacity.
"We haven't gotten to that point," Farrell said. "We wanted to take a look at Spring Training itself and see how things unfolded, because before games were played or before we even got onto the field, we didn't know how he was going to respond physically to the day to day volume. And it's been favorable.
"His timing at the plate has looked very good. He might say otherwise based on his own comfort level, but just outwardly looking at him, he doesn't look like he's missed two years."
Sizemore drilled a single up the middle to lead off the bottom of the first in Saturday's game.
Cherington: Prospect Denney off field 'for a while'
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Saturday the club is putting together a program for prospect Jon Denney that will keep the catcher off the baseball field for a while following an arrest earlier this week.
Denney, 19, a catcher taken by the Red Sox in the third round of last year's First-Year Player Draft, was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with driving with a suspended license.
According to the police report, Denney was belligerent in his interaction with officers at the scene.
"We spent the last couple of days gathering information and spending time with Jon figuring out what happened and what needs to be done," said Cherington. "And at this point, we're in the middle of putting together a program for Jon to address things we feel he needs to address and that will likely mean he's not on the field for a while.
"Beyond that, I can't say anything else more than that at this time. But we certainly take the incident seriously. And as we would with any other player, we're trying to address his needs and help him in any way we can. But certainly he has some work to do."
This is the third recent Spring Training in which the Red Sox have had a player arrested during camp. Bobby Jenks was pulled over for DUI in 2012, and lefty Drake Britton was charged with the same thing last spring.
"I think any time something like this happens, it's a concern," said Cherington. "It's not something that represents the organization the way we want. It's not something that's part of being a professional baseball player. It's not something that's part of being any employee. So we take it seriously.
"Again, we need to take each case individually and respond and address each case individually based on the totality of information and the history and everything. That's what we'll continue to do. But we understand there's more to playing on the field and performing on the field, not just as a baseball player, but we're all representing the organization in some way. That kind of behavior is unacceptable."
• Third baseman Will Middlebrooks was held out of the lineup for the second day in a row because of a minor finger injury. He is expected to return on Sunday at Port Charlotte against the Rays.
"We're giving him a little bit of a breather, particularly on his right middle finger," said Farrell. "He hyper-extended it the other day on a slide at second base when he stole second over at Minnesota. We fully expect him to be in the lineup tomorrow, or no later than the next day, but we just felt that we should get ahead of it right now."
• Though he hasn't pitched in a game yet, lefty reliever Craig Breslow is still on track to start the season on the active roster.
"He's still in position to be on time," Farrell said. "He had a very good bullpen yesterday. We're anticipating he'll see hitters by the second half of this week and soon to be in a game."
• In recent years, the Red Sox have been one of the worst teams in the Majors at throwing out basestealers. Farrell said that improving that is a point of emphasis this spring.
"It's ongoing," Farrell said. "We've got a number of things in play right now with the communication between the bench, the catcher and through the pitcher. And yet you balance. You prioritize pitch execution, first and foremost. If there is one pitcher that might be a little longer of an unloading time, you try to combat that with holding the ball and some picks.
"But from the mound standpoint, we're doing everything we can to give that guy a chance to throw and cut down a would-be basestealer."