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Washington Nationals’ Jon Lester feeling good after surgery to remove thyroid gland

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Davey Martinez shared the good news on Jon Lester on Sunday morning. He’s expected to be back in West Palm Beach today...

2021 Washington Nationals Photo Day Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

With Jon Lester’s medical history in mind, Davey Martinez said last week he was cautiously optimistic that the 37-year-old, 15-year veteran would be able to bounce back quickly after surgery to remove his thyroid gland, after it was announced that the left-hander needed to undergo the procedure.

“For me,” Martinez said, “I definitely believe and talking to him, that it’s something that for his mind’s sake that we needed to take care of it right away. I think he’s upbeat about it. I know he’s upbeat about it. So as soon as we can take care of that all he wants to do is come back and help us win and get back on the mound, so we’re all for it. So hopefully like I said, we get this thing taken care of, he comes back, and he’s good to go.”

Martinez and Lester worked together in Chicago between 2015-17 and they were reunited in D.C. when the southpaw signed on with the Nationals, following six seasons as a starter with the Cubs.

In his sixth season on the North Side of the Windy City in 2020, Lester worked with first-year manager David Ross, who told reporters last week that he would say a prayer for the pitcher he worked with 89 times during Ross’s playing days as a catcher.

“From what I’m hearing, it’s not very serious,” Ross said after hearing the news, as quoted on MLB.com last week.

“I don’t think he’s going to be out very long. But, I don’t want to comment on somebody else’s medical conditions. But, yeah, definitely all the best to Jon and we’ll say a prayer for him. I think he’s not worried, so that makes me not worry.”

What is it about Lester that engenders so much love from his managers and teammates?

“One, he cares,” Martinez said on Sunday, after announcing that the surgery went well and Lester was expected to rejoin the Nationals in West Palm Beach on Monday as planned.

“He cares about everything around him,” Martinez added, “... teammates, how we do things, he’s very outspoken. He’s not afraid to have tough conversations with his teammates. He’s a leader. But the biggest thing with him is that he wants to win.

“That’s who he is. He competes. Never have to ask him about pitching. He wants the ball every five days. So how do you not fall in love with a guy like that.”

In the short time he’s been in camp with the Nationals, after signing a 1-year/$5M free agent deal this winter, Lester’s made a strong impression, and his manager and new teammates want him to return to the team this week, now that the surgery went well.

“He’s coming in today,” Martinez continued. “He’ll be with us tomorrow, and he is going to start getting back to his normal routine, and we’ll try to get him on the mound as soon as we possibly can, but the surgery went well.”

While Martinez expressed confidence that Lester would get through the procedure and get back to the team quickly last week, he did say on Sunday that he was relieved to hear things went as expected.

“I think it’s very encouraging. After talking to him he said he feels great,” he said.

“Now it’s just a healing process, and then from there ... we’ll get him back to his regular routine. But he was very upbeat. He said he feels very good, so he’s looking forward to getting back here and being with his teammates.”

Lester will have to repeat the process all the players went through upon originally arriving at Spring Training, so he’ll go through intake testing and barring a positive test, start up where he left off in terms of his preparation for the 2021 season.

“He was throwing the ball really well before he left. He threw a couple of live BPs and he felt good, so hopefully this doesn’t set him back too much,” Martinez said.

“As soon as we deem he’s ready to get back on the mound and throw a side, I don’t think he’ll need much. But we’ll see when he gets here. His arm feels great. His body feels great.

“It’s just a matter of recovering now from this procedure.”

Is there a sense of relief for the manager in getting the official word that Lester came out of the surgery feeling good?

“I feel relieved that everything came out well,” Martinez said. “Like I said, he’s been through a lot. And I’m glad that this procedure went well, and he’s ready to come back and help us and compete. That’s one thing that I know about him, is that it crushes him when he’s not with his teammates and helping and just being out there, and knowing that he’s a big part of our rotation, he just wants to be back and be back to normal and go out and try help us win games.”