JUPITER, Fla. – It’s evident Jon Lester will be Boston’s Opening Day starter, but manager John Farrell, while saying he’s closer to revealing his choice, refused to make anything official before Lester made his first five-inning stint of the spring against the Marlins Monday.
All Farrell advised reporters to do was look at the way the rotation has been set up. Lester is at the head of that.
When told he was unofficially named the Opening Day starter, Lester said, “Have I?” When it was explained Farrell sort of did by referring to the current setup in the rotation, the lefthander said, “I haven’t figured it out yet. I haven’t looked that far ahead.”
Lester likely will throw up to 70 pitches in his next outing, scheduled for Sunday.
After a shaky first inning in an 8-7 loss to the Marlins, Lester was dominant.
“Better finish to his curveball, probably the best one he’s had in camp,” Farrell said. “He’s repeating his delivery well.”
“First inning was a little rough,” Lester admitted after Juan Pierre singled and then advanced to third on a groundout and steal of third before scoring on Chris Valaika’s single.
“When you have Juan on first it makes it hard to get the ball back down in the zone. But after that I mixed in some offspeed pitches much better than I did the last time. All in all, a pretty good day,” Lester said.
Lester gave up three hits and just the one run with four strikeouts and no walks.
Good news, bad news
The yin and the yang of Monday was Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 3-for-4 performance and Rubby De La Rosa’s disastrous seventh inning, when he allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning, including four walks.
Farrell commended Bradley Jr., saying, “Righthanded pitching, lefthanded pitching, he stays balanced and stays inside the ball. [Kevin] Slowey and [Mike] Dunn are two guys [the Marlins are] counting on and he’s handled different types of guys. He’s had a strong camp.”
Farrell said De La Rosa, going back to his previous outing, “is overthrowing. His fastball command is erratic. He’s creating his own issues and traffic with bases on balls. Today it showed up more than it has in this camp.”
Aceves’s fighting words
Alfredo Aceves has a few welts on the right side of his head, the result of the brawl between Mexico and Canada in the World Baseball Classic Saturday. But he worked out with the Red Sox Monday and is ready to pitch.
Aceves was not on the field when the fight started. But he was thrown to the ground by Canada’s Tyson Gillies at one point and later took a series of punches to his head while being held down by some other Canadian players.
Aceves still isn’t sure how he became the target.
“It’s a team, you know?” he said. “It’s part of the game.”
As for Gillies, Aceves doesn’t know him and isn’t sure why they started fighting.
“What can I say? It didn’t surprise me. He threw me to the floor. I stood up and I reacted, too,” Aceves said. “I didn’t do nothing to him. I was just calming [others] down. The fighting was with the pitcher and the hitter. I was saying, ‘Calm down, man. Calm down. Come on. Calm down.’ He just grabbed me and threw me on the floor.
“I was like, ‘I want to throw you on the floor.’ Then when I jumped into this guy, I got seven guys against me.”
Aceves described what was a chaotic scene at that point.
“You’re locked in. You’re just trying to defend and knock them out. That’s it. We were trying to [defend] ourselves. We didn’t do nothing to him. He just threw me,” he said.
Maier in the running
Former Royal Mitch Maier is flying under the radar as he bids for a reserve outfield spot. “He’s having a good camp so he’s definitely in the mix,” Farrell said. “It’s very specific to recruiting him here and signing him in the winter. As we looked at our bench and the potential of it, the need for a lefthanded-hitting outfielder was there and he’s played well in all three outfield positions.’’ . . . Shortstop Stephen Drew sustained a concussion Thursday when he was hit in the helmet by a pitch, although it didn’t become apparent until that evening when he had trouble focusing while reading a book. Drew has not played since because of lingering symptoms. “Initially, I was fine. The trainers asked and I was coherent and everything else,” he said Monday. “It was when I got home and kind of noticed the symptoms coming on.” Drew said he is in a “holding pattern” until he feels better. He still feels dizzy and light-headed at times . . . The scare of the day? Mike Napoli being hit with a pitch on the under portion of the left wrist. “Little sore,” Napoli said after he exited Monday’s game. “Any time you get hit on your hand it doesn’t take much to go wrong. At first it was a little numb and then got feel back. It’s all right.” Napoli also made a nice diving play to rob Rob Brantly of a hit. “It was more reaction,” Napoli said. “But I feel good with my setup and timing when the pitcher is going to the plate. Keep working on it. The more reps the better.” Asked if he saw himself as a first baseman, he said, “Yeah, absolutely. I don’t think about catching any more.’’