MESA, Ariz. -- The last time Jon Lester hit a home run -- or remembers being allowed to hit before joining a National League team -- was in high school. He was using a metal bat then.The Cubs left-hander smacked a no-doubter on Wednesday, launching his first Spring Training blast
MESA, Ariz. -- The last time Jon Lester hit a home run -- or remembers being allowed to hit before joining a National League team -- was in high school. He was using a metal bat then.
The Cubs left-hander smacked a no-doubter on Wednesday, launching his first Spring Training blast in his last Cactus League start.
Lester hit an opposite-field two-run home run with one on in a seven-run fourth, connecting on a 3-1 fastball from the Rockies' Scott Oberg in a 10-0 victory.
As Lester walked back to the dugout, Anthony Rizzo greeted him by pointing up to the sky with both hands -- something a lot of home run hitters do as they cross the plate -- and Lester complied.
"That's Riz," Lester said, shaking his head. "We don't lack having fun. There's definitely never a dull moment in our clubhouse or in the dugout. It's a fun group to be around and being around these young kids and the energy they bring. It makes us older fellas feel a little younger."
Lester has never hit a home run in five previous Spring Training at-bats in his career -- although, to be fair, he has spent his entire career in the American League until last season, his first with the Cubs. He has four hits in 98 career at-bats in the regular season.
"We weren't allowed to swing most of the time," Lester said of his pre-Cubs days.
Lester recalled one game with the Red Sox when they faced Cliff Lee and he couldn't move.
"[Boston manager] John Farrell told me if I took the bat off my shoulder, he'd fine me," Lester said. "I told the catcher, 'I'm not allowed to swing, so if you just want to throw heaters down the middle, go for it.' He did. I punched out twice on six pitches and drug it back to the dugout."
Something else Cubs fans may not see again: Lester and Kyle Schwarber going back to back. Schwarber followed Lester's blast with his second spring homer.
The difference, Lester said, is that this year he feels more comfortable at the plate. He hasn't hit on a regular basis since his high school days in 2002. He had to re-learn everything last year.
"You're coming in and trying to figure out how far from the plate you're supposed to stand and how you're supposed to load and how you're supposed to swing," he said. "This year I have a better idea of what I'm trying to do. Just the comfort level of being in a batter's box and seeing live pitching -- that's the hardest part. These guys all throw 94, 95 [mph] plus. It's a big shock when you don't see it all the time."
Last July 6, Lester ended a streak of 67 career at-bats without a hit when he singled off his buddy, John Lackey, who was pitching for the Cardinals. Now, Lackey and Lester are teammates again on the Cubs. The two have a little competition going this season regarding their hitting. Unfortunately for Lester, his homer doesn't count.
"There's a lot of trash talking between us," he said. "We'll see how it goes."
Lester does seem to have an edge going into the regular season.
"That [homer] was a cool thing and something you can put on the mantel, but it really doesn't matter," Lester said. "Hopefully, we can get one during the season. That will mean a lot more."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.