Epstein: Lester already leading

Lefty one of the early birds in camp, arriving well before Thursday's report date

Epstein: Lester already leading

MESA, Ariz. -- It's good to be Jon Lester right now. The left-hander has a new six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs, scored a hole-in-one on his first round of golf of the year, and looks good in his early bullpens.

"It's been nice to see him so comfortable," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Thursday.

Lester was one of the early birds in Cubs camp, arriving well before Thursday's report date for his first spring in Arizona and his first not wearing a Red Sox uniform.

"He's already showed people around here what he's all about," Epstein said of the left-hander. "He's very serious about winning, he's very serious about working hard. He's very serious about connecting with his teammates and with the people around him, forming bonds that he feels are important to a winning club. He's already leading by example. We've got some of the young pitchers following Jon around and doing his workout routine."

Lester also has figured out the Cubs complex. When he arrived Thursday, Lester avoided the media outside the front door and snuck in the side. He couldn't avoid the television cameras as he worked out and played catch on the field, though.

"He's working hard and has a smile on his face the rest of the day and that's Jon Lester," Epstein said. "Joe [Maddon] had a good word -- [Lester is] very sincere, he's very authentic. He really just cares about winning, working hard and bonding with his teammates -- winning first and foremost. He seems even more comfortable than I anticipated he would be on the day pitchers and catchers report."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.