"He was struggling right from the get-go," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We could see it in his body language. It was a fight. It was like, 'There's no easing into Spring Training.' He was looking around. That's OK. Learn from that and move on. As long as you learn from it, it's good. I thought his arm looked healthy. He just wasn't attacking the zone."
Lester was down 4-0 by the time he sat down following his only inning against the Twins. At an earlier point of Lester's career, such a rocky start might have perturbed him. But by now, it was a hangnail type of annoyance.
"Yes and no," said Lester. "We're all competitive. We don't want to go out there and get beat. I can sit back and say it was the first one and we've got a lot more to go. There's some jitters and excitement there. I'm not really concerned about it."
As much as the pitchers go through the paces during the early weeks of camp, from the side sessions to the batting-practice encounters, there's nothing that replicates pitching in a game.
"First one of the year -- nice to get it out of the way," said Lester. "I would have liked for it to have gone a little bit better, but I felt all right. Mechanically, I felt OK. I wasn't missing by much. I missed to the side of the plate I was going. I made some good adjustments. I threw a couple of good pitches, so I'll just build on those ones. That's all you can really do right now. You can't feel completely down from one outing. Just take it and build on it."
For Lester, it was simply one of those days. If there was one regret, it's that the 33 pitches he threw in the first inning prevented him from going back out there for one more.
But the lefty worked out some of his frustration by throwing 14 pitches in the bullpen once his day was done.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.