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Red Sox Hope For 80-90 Pitches From Jon Lester In His Return From DL

My fantasy team is finally getting healthy, and not a moment too soon. 

Not unrelatedly, so are the Red Sox, who expect to get Jon Lester back on the mound on Monday evening when they host the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

Lester, DL-ed on July 6th with a strain in his upper back, has nearly completed his rehab, throwing a simulated game instead of his scheduled side session today prior to Boston's 4-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles

It was the first time the staff ace has thrown off a mound since going on the disabled list, and Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that he was using all of his pitches in the session, which is an encouraging sign for a beleaguered pitching staff that's had to get by using Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller and Kyle Weiland in the rotation.

The Red Sox expect Lester to throw 80-90 pitches in the Monday start, a bit below his average but enough to keep from straining the bullpen too much. 

With Lester back, Weiland will get sent down to Pawtucket and the Red Sox will turn their focus to improving the back of Clay Buchholz, who's shown no ill effects of his back soreness when throwing on flat ground, but continues to have problems when throwing from the mound.