Notes: Lester will start year in Class A
Left-hander is returning from chemotherapy for lymphoma
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox met with Jon Lester on Tuesday afternoon and outlined a plan in which the lefty will start his season at Class A Greenville.
It is all part of the team's incremental plan to get Lester back up to full speed after an offseason that included several chemotherapy treatments for anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
"He's going to start the season in Greenville for four starts and progressively ramp up his pitch count [and] endurance, and then we will make the next step from there," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "That takes him through roughly 3 1/2, four weeks of April. It's another start down here, and then four in Greenville.
"We want to get him out of Florida, get him to a situation where it's a game type of situation with lights, but also at the same time in a situation where we can still monitor and before we completely take off the [reins] and let him go, turn him loose. I think he understands."
Lester, regarded as one of Boston's top pitching prospects, went 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 15 starts for the Red Sox last year.
Timlin airs it out: One of the most encouraging things to happen on Tuesday was after batting practice, when right-hander Mike Timlin threw off the mound for the first time since being shut down on March 10 with oblique woes.
"Timlin did great, had a very good day," said Francona. "[The] ball came out of his hand very well, no problems with his side. He'll have a down day tomorrow, and hopefully duplicate [the side sesson] on Thursday. He had a real good day, very encouraging. It was about 35, 40 pitches."
Timlin will pitch in some Minor League games before being activated. The tentative plan is for Timlin to be ready to help the Red Sox on April 10.
Wakefield ready to roll: Count knuckleballer Tim Wakefield among those ready to break camp. The righty went six innings on Tuesday against the Pirates, scattering six hits and three runs while striking out five.
"Yeah, I was ready last week," said Wakefield. "I think I threw 88 pitches today and still felt like I had some gas in the tank. I have one more tune-up in a Minor League game on Sunday, and then I'm ready to go. I'm ready to get the season started. "
On a lighter note, Wakefield tried teaching Daisuke Matsuzaka a knuckleball during batting practice.
"He's got no chance," quipped Wakefield.
Manny getting better: Left fielder Manny Ramirez sat out for the second day in a row due to illness. But the slugger was at City of Palms Park and took some hacks on the back field. Francona expects Ramirez will play Wednesday night against the Twins.
Minor move: The Red Sox dealt veteran catcher Alberto Castillo to the Orioles for Minor League outfielder Cory Keylor. Castillo was in camp simply as insurance and was never in the running to make the team. Keylor, 27, was a non-roster invite at Orioles camp. He hit .294 with 10 homers and 68 RBIs at Double-A Bowie last season en route to being named the organization's Minor League Player of the Year.
Coming up: The Red Sox take the short bus ride to Hammond Stadium to face the Twins on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. For the third time this spring, Curt Schilling will match up with fellow ace Johan Santana.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.