FORT MYERS, Fla. — The worst-kept secret of Red Sox spring training finally spilled out of the ball bag Wednesday before the Sox played the Miami Marlins at JetBlue Park.No shots at John Henry or Larry Lucchino? What gives? And what's a column on Jon Lester without a mention of birds and Buds?
Jon Lester will be the Opening Day starter against the Yankees in New York Monday afternoon.
“That’s a surprise in camp — in Camp No Surprise,’’ said manager John Farrell.
Lester will become the first Red Sox pitcher to start three consecutive openers since Pedro Martinez started seven straight from 1998-2004. The only other lefties to start three straight openers for the Sox are Mel Parnell and Babe Ruth.
Getting Lester back on track has been one of the top goals of the spring of 2013. Still only 29 years old, the big southpaw is 85-48 (.639) over seven seasons, but he slumped badly beginning in the infamous September of 2011. In his last four games of ’11, Lester went 0-3 with an ERA of 8.24. He gave up 25 hits and 12 walks in 19⅔ innings. After manager Terry Francona was fired, Lester was fingered as one of the chicken-and-beer brigade and he seemed to carry psychological baggage into the 2012 season.That'll never get old, will it?
In a rare moment of guilty feelings / candor, Shank then mentions this:
“It’s all about standing tall,’’ Lester said after Wednesday’s outing. “It sounds simple, but for whatever reason I morphed into it from 2011 to 2012. I was pitching like I was 5-10 instead of like I’m 6-4. You can see it. You look at it, side-by-side, even someone who doesn’t know anything about baseball [I think he was looking at me when he said this] can see it. I couldn’t dig out. I don’t know how it worked out in my head, but it wasn’t good. So this spring I overhauled everything and I’m back to being me.’’Translation - 'shut your piehole about me for a while and let me pitch.'
We'll see if that's 'message received' or not.