Lester
Gene J. Puskar/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 is set to travel from West Palm Beach, Florida, to New York for the procedure.

“If everything goes well, he’ll be back,” Martinez told reporters on a Zoom video conference. “Hopefully, he can pitch again in about a week. We wanted him to get it taken care of now so it’s not an issue.”

In 2006, Lester’s rookie season with the Boston Red Sox ended early because he was diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). He underwent chemotherapy treatments at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He returned to the Red Sox at spring training before the following season. He has been healthy since that diagnosis.

Lester, a five-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion, 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 Chicago 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.

The Nationals plan of having Lester ready for his first scheduled start of the season. The 15-year veteran had a 5.16 ERA and 3-3 record in 12 starts last season for the Chicago Cubs. Lester is 193-111 with a 3.60 ERA over his 15-year career.

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.

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