ARLINGTON, Texas — The Red Sox are sticking with Jon Lester, deciding Monday night to keep the struggling lefthander in the rotation.
His next game will be Saturday against the Yankees in the Bronx.
Lester will have a change in routine, however. Instead of his usual bullpen session Wednesday, Lester will face hitters in a simulated game.
“We’ve got a nice proactive plan,” said manager Bobby Valentine, who met with Lester before Monday’s 9-1 loss to the Rangers. “He says he feels great and is throwing the ball as well as he’s thrown the ball in a couple of years. We’ve just got to get him at a point where his good stuff is getting hitters out and he says he’s ready to do that.”
Lester is 5-8 with a 5.46 earned run average. Of the 42 qualified starters in the American League, only three have a higher ERA. He has lost his last three starts, giving up 21 earned runs on 25 hits and 10 walks over 12⅓ innings.
Lester had the worst start of his career Sunday against Toronto, allowing 11 earned runs before being pulled in the fourth inning.
Lester faced the Yankees July 8 and allowed five runs (four earned) on nine hits. He did not get out of the fifth inning in a game the Red Sox lost, 7-3.
With the day off Thursday, the Red Sox had the opportunity to skip Lester and start Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront, and Clay Buchholz against the Yankees.
Was a trip to the disabled list considered?
“He’s not hurt, that’s for sure. He says he feels fine,” Valentine said.
Before he sat down with Lester, Valentine downplayed the gravity of their meeting.
“Just a conversation, you know? It’s not anything that has to get deep. We have to talk and figure it out. We’re not solving the world corn crisis. I believe in him. That’s a good start.”
The Red Sox had six players on the 25-man roster who were born in Texas. But Monday’s game was especially meaningful for rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
He was born in Greenville and attended high school in Texarkana. That’s about 200 miles east of Rangers Ballpark. Monday marked his first game in Texas since his final high school game in 2007.
“Absolutely a big deal. I had my eyes on the calendar from the beginning of the year. I was hoping I’d be called up,” Middlebrooks said. “It worked out great.”
Middlebrooks, 23, grew up a Rangers fan. He attended his first game when he was 8 and remembers cheering for Pudge Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and Dean Palmer.
On Monday, there were dozens of friends and family in the stands to see him play. “It’s great to see everyone,” Middlebrooks said. “This is really a lot of fun.”
Middlebrooks doubled to right field in his first at-bat. He finished 2 for 4.
Bobby V returns
Valentine managed his first game at Rangers Ballpark. He had a big hand in helping plan the facility during his stint as the manager.
Valentine managed Texas from 1985-92. Rangers Ballpark opened in 1994. Valentine spent much of his time in Texas promoting the team and the idea that the franchise needed a new park to replace dilapidated Arlington Stadium.
Valentine has the most wins (581) and most games managed (1,186) in Rangers history.
Rangers lose starter
Righthander Colby Lewis, who was scheduled to pitch Tuesday, was placed on the disabled list with a torn flexor tendon and will have season-ending surgery later this week.
Lewis was 6-6 with a 3.43 earned run average. His loss figures to make the Rangers more active on the trade market.
The Rangers called up 21-year-old lefthander Martin Perez from Triple A Round Rock and he will start on Tuesday.
Perez was 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in four appearances (two starts) with the Rangers earlier this season.
Adrian Gonzalez was named the American League player of the week. He was 12 of 28 with 3 home runs and 12 RBIs. Gonzalez has hit safely in 25 of 28 games at 43 of 114 (.377). “I understand it’s a long season,” said Gonzalez, who had a rough start. “It’s not how you start or how you finish, it’s the season as a whole.” . . . Andrew Bailey will throw live batting practice on Wednesday here. If that goes well, he could start a rehab assignment. The closer has been out all season after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. “I’m anxious to see hitters and then get in some games,” Bailey said . . . Righthander Scott Atchison played long toss before the game and threw 25 pitches from flat ground. He will throw off the bullpen mound on Wednesday. He is on the disabled list with soreness in his forearm. “That’s gone away,” Atchison said. “I threw breaking pitches and didn’t feel anything.” . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka also is set for a bullpen session on Wednesday. That will move him closer to a rehab assignment. He is on the DL with a sore trapezius muscle.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.