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Farrell already sees a difference in Lester

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It is only two Grapefruit League starts, but Red Sox manager John Farrell already sees signs that ace Jon Lester is positioning himself for a bounce-back season.

"When you look at the lower half in his delivery, he's working downhill much more consistently," Farrell said after the Red Sox's 5-2 win against the Pirates on Friday night. "If you look at video [contrasting] any time midseason last year 'till now, you'll notice a very different lead leg.

"That's been able to allow him to work from kind of a high to low type trajectory through the strike zone rather than collapsing on the backside and pushing the fastball through the zone. And that's what's allowed him to throw the ball down at the bottom of the zone."

Against the Pirates, Lester fired three innings of one-hit, shutout baseball, walking one and striking out two.

Lester doesn't dispute the notion that the return of Farrell -- his pitching coach from 2007-10 -- is comforting.

"Yeah, it's been good so far," said Lester. "It's nice having John here, just because of all the things that we worked on in previous years here. It's kind of weird that he remembers them all. He remembers all the little keys that stand out in my mind when we're trying to work on stuff. He's really helped Juan [Nieves] transition really nicely into so far a really good pitching coach."