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Lester cleared to start on Thursday

Lester cleared to start on Thursday

BOSTON -- In the strongest sign yet that Jon Lester doesn't have any significant after-effects from the Melky Cabrera line drive that smacked him on the right knee on Friday night, the left-hander made his side session as scheduled before Monday's game.

The session went so well that Lester left no doubt about the fact he will be able to take the ball on Thursday night in his final tune-up before his first start of the postseason, which could very well be Game 1 in Anaheim on Oct. 8.

"I felt fine," said Lester. "No problems. Just the normal long tossing and everything. Right around 55 pitches. Everything was good. I felt good this morning when I woke up and walking around and everything. But there's that question in your mind, 'OK, when I get on the mound, is it going to bug me?' And it didn't. Everything was good. I'm sure Thursday is fine."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona expressed similar confidence in Lester's recovery.

"Yeah, he did well," Francona said. "Real well. He had an extended bullpen [session]. He feels good about himself. [Pitching coach] John Farrell felt real good about it. He's going forward. I'm sure he feels like he got hit by a line drive. But he's OK. Yes, I don't see that [Thursday start] getting interrupted."

Lester is 14-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 31 starts this season.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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