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Nationals pitcher Jon Lester to have thyroid gland removed

Lester will leave spring training in West Palm Beach, Florida, and fly to New York for the procedure. He is expected to be back at camp in about five to seven days.

Nationals left-hander Jon Lester will have surgery to have a thyroid gland removed, manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday.
Nationals left-hander Jon Lester will have surgery to have a thyroid gland removed, manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday.
Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via AP

Washington Nationals left-hander Jon Lester is leaving spring training camp to have surgery for the removal of his thyroid gland, manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday.

The 37-year-old Lester was to travel from West Palm Beach, Florida, to New York for the procedure.

“Hopefully he can pitch again in about a week,” Martinez said in a video conference with reporters before Washington’s exhibition game against the Miami Marlins. “We want him to get it taken care of now, so it’s not an issue.”

Martinez said the Nationals “still have plans, as of right now, that he will start the season with us on his scheduled day, but we’ll have to see — after this procedure’s done — how he’s feeling.”

In 2006, Lester’s rookie season with the Boston Red Sox ended early because he was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma.

He underwent chemotherapy treatments and returned to the Red Sox at spring training before the following season.

Lester is entering his 16th year in the majors and first with Washington. He was a free agent and joined the Nationals on a $5 million, one-year contract after playing the past six seasons with the Cubs.

The starting pitcher originally was scheduled to make his first appearance for Washington in a Grapefruit League game Thursday.

But Martinez said that after additional test results came in, a decision was made Tuesday for Lester to have the surgery.

He said Lester had been feeling tired.

“That’s the big issue. I feel like once they get this out, he’ll have a lot more energy throughout the day,” the manager said. “I hope it works out for him. I really do. He’s a big part of what we do here and we love having him. He’s been working his tail off, day in and day out, and I know he’s going to help us.”

Washington added Lester to a star-studded rotation that already included three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and lefty Patrick Corbin.

Lester pitched 61 innings across 12 starts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, going 3-3 with a career-high 5.16 ERA for the Cubs.

His $25 million mutual option for 2021 was declined by the Cubs in October, completing a $155 million, six-year contract and allowing Lester to become a free agent.

He was 77-44 with a 3.64 ERA in 171 starts with the Cubs.