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Jon Lester not scheduled to pitch against Red Sox

Jon Lester is not scheduled to face the Red Sox at Fenway April 28-30.PAUL BEATY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

TORONTO — For the first time since the Red Sox traded him in 2014, Jon Lester will be back at Fenway Park later this month. But he won’t be pitching.

The Chicago Cubs made a change to their rotation on Wednesday that will keep Lester out of the series against the Red Sox April 28-30.

Lester is now scheduled to start against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, then in Pittsburgh on April 26.

Lester has not faced the Red Sox since he was traded to the Oakland Athletics on July 31, 2014. His last game at Fenway Park was six days prior to the deal.


The Cubs are off on Thursday and again on April 27. That allowed manager Joe Maddon to reconfigure the rotation.

“If you don’t have the off days, you cannot do it,” Maddon told reporters in Chicago. “Things can be changed once again. We don’t know that. For now, you just make your best guesses.”

Lester is 36-21 with a 2.74 earned run average in 78 starts since the Red Sox traded him to the Athletics for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The lefthander was 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA last season, helping lead the Cubs to their first World Series championship since 1908.

Through three starts this season, Lester has given up two earned runs over 18 innings.

Jake Arrieta and John Lackey are lined up to start the first two games for the Cubs at Fenway. The starter for April 30 could be Brett Anderson or Kyle Hendricks.

The Red Sox have a day off Monday but will not change their rotation, according to manager John Farrell. That would have Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Rick Porcello facing the Cubs.

The Red Sox could skip one of their starters and pitch Chris Sale in the final game of the series. But Farrell said his preference would be to keep the rotation in order.


“I think it’s important that we give our guys the extra day of rest at various points. If something happens to make us go in a different direction, we’ll address it at that point,” the manager said. “It’s a long season . . . we have to take advantage of those days when available.”

Rodriguez returns

Rodriguez cut short his paternity leave, traveling here from Miami to be available in relief.

Rodriguez could have taken up to three days off but agreed to return and add depth to what has been an overworked bullpen. The Red Sox had discussed the possibility before Rodriguez left the team for the birth of his son.

“We appreciate him coming back,” Farrell said.

Brian Johnson, who filled in for Rodriguez on Tuesday and picked up his first major league win, was optioned back to Triple A Pawtucket.

Rodriguez remains scheduled to start in Baltimore on Sunday.

“He’s very comfortable with that,” Farrell said.

Price slows pace

David Price’s rehabilitation program, which was picking up speed last week, has clearly slowed.

Price played long toss again on Wednesday then threw 20 pitches with “good intensity,” according to Farrell. Price is now scheduled to throw two simulated innings in the bullpen in Baltimore on Friday.

The lefthander threw 45 pitches in the bullpen at Fenway Park last Saturday. Farrell said at the time that the next step would be for Price to face hitters, but that has been delayed for at least a week.


According to Farrell, Price did not have any setback and is “building strength” in his arm. Price said on Tuesday night that he feels fine.

Price first injured his elbow on Feb. 28. Seven weeks later, it remains unclear when he will return to the rotation.

Bradley gets closer

Jackie Bradley Jr., who turned 27 on Wednesday, started in center field for Triple A Pawtucket at Charlotte. He went 1 for 3 with a pair of walks and broke a scoreless tie with his solo homer in the fifth inning of the PawSox’ 4-0 win. The Sox plan to activate him off the disabled list on Friday in Baltimore. Bradley, who is out with a sprained right knee, will have a workout day on Thursday . . . Infielder Josh Rutledge was the designated hitter for Pawtucket on Wednesday. He went 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. His minor league rehabilitation assignment will take some time, as the Sox want him to get defensive work at first base, third base, and shortstop. Rutledge has been out all season with a strained left hamstring . . . Righthanded reliever Tyler Thornburg, who is on the DL with a shoulder injury, has yet to progress beyond long toss. Thornburg has not pitched off a mound since March 24 . . . Xander Bogaerts was 2 for 5 with a run scored batting leadoff on Tuesday. He said he had not batted first since extended spring training games in 2011 . . . Fenway Park will host the North Carolina State-Boston College game at 4 p.m. Saturday. All net proceeds will go to the Pete Frates No. 3 Fund. Frates, a former Eagles team captain, has ALS.


Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.