Jon Lester throws bullpen session, set for Monday start

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Jon Lester threw a problem-free bullpen session this morning and is scheduled to return from the disabled list Monday against the Royals.

Lester hasn’t pitched since July 5 because of a strained left latissimus, but manager Terry Francona told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal that the left-hander is healthy now and simply needs to build back his arm strength:

There’s no issues. That’s good. We’re just trying to ramp him up and let him get strong. He feels nothing in that lat, which is great. That’s what we wanted. Now it’s just the idea of getting him back to where he can go out there and start a game and not be so limited to where he can only throw 50 pitches.

According to Britton the pitch count for Monday’s start figures to be around 80 or 90. Aside from leaving the July 5 outing early, Lester hasn’t thrown fewer than 93 pitches in a start since Opening Day.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.