- Associated Press - Monday, March 10, 2014

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) - 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 nay 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.

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