Lester, who has been diagnosed with cancer, has undergone intensive medical treatments, including chemotherapy for anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
"He's going to start the season in Greenville for four starts and progressively ramp up his pitch count and endurance, and then we will make the next step from there," Boston Manager Terry Francona said on the team's Web site. "That takes him through roughly 3 1/2, four weeks of April. It's another start down here, and then four in Greenville."
The 23-year-old Lester is considered the Red Sox' best future pitching prospect. Cancer forced him to miss the last two months last season.
Before he was diagnosed with cancer, he won his first six big-league decisions following a call-up from the minors in June, and then went 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 81 1/3 innings.