WASHINGTON — Jon Lester has already won three World Series championships in his career. He would happily face the Red Sox for the right to claim a fourth.
“I don’t care who we play. But that would be fun,” Lester said on Monday. “Any time you have two storied franchises playing in the World Series, it makes it even that much more exciting.
“That would add a different dynamic for me personally. But just to be there again would be good.”
Now 34, Lester has a few gray hairs sprouting in his beard and is clearly comfortable with his place in the game. This season was the fifth time he was selected to the All-Star team and his Chicago Cubs are leading the National League Central.
Lester is 61-31 with a 3.19 earned run average since the Red Sox traded him to Oakland in 2014. The lefthander is 12-2, 2.58 for the Cubs this season.
His time with the Red Sox feels like a long time ago.
“It actually does,” Lester said. “I didn’t think four years could feel so long. I think the last three-and-a-half, four years have been fun. I’ve had a lot of fun in Chicago. Winning helps that. It’s been a good group to play for and play with.”
Lester still follows the Red Sox and isn’t surprised his former teammate Alex Cora has been such a success as a manager.
“Not at all,” said Lester, who played with Cora in Boston from 2006-08. “Back then he was a manager. I don’t want to take anything away from [former Sox manager Terry Francona], but he ran the bench. He helped the position players and talked to guys, whatever needed to be done.
“I saw it early on it in my career that this guy could potentially be a manager and do a good job. I’m happy that he’s doing well. It seems like it fits him. Obviously they’re playing well.”
Lester also said his close friend Dustin Pedroia is doing the right thing by taking time to properly rehabilitate his surgically repaired left knee.
“The biggest thing with that is that he needs to sit back and get right,” Lester said. “I know how stubborn he is and wants to play. Sometimes that gets in the way of taking care of yourself.”
Pedroia has played only three games this year and recently returned to Arizona to work with a therapist there. He is unlikely to play again this season.
Sale of the century
American League manager A.J. Hinch was matter of fact when asked why he selected Chris Sale as his starting pitcher for Tuesday.
“Honestly, the proof is in the numbers,” Hinch said. “He’s the most consistent starter in the American League.”
Sale has the lowest ERA (2.23), the most strikeouts per nine innings (13.12), the second-lowest WHIP (0.90), third-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.06), and lowest opposing OPS (.546).
Hinch also made history with his pick of Sale.
The lefthander will become the first pitcher to start three All-Star Games in a row since Hall of Famer Robin Roberts from 1953-55 for the National League.
The only other pitcher to start three in a row was Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez of the Yankees from 1933-35.
Sale also would become the first Red Sox pitcher to start multiple All-Star games.
“Obviously I appreciate it,” Sale said. “It’s a big honor and I know this doesn’t happen very often and in a long time.”
Sale has thrown seven innings in five previous All-Star appearances. He has allowed two runs on seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.
Hinch said his plan was to have Luis Severino of the Yankees pitch second and Blake Snell of the Rays third.
For Sale, the inning he is expected to pitch falls at the perfect time. He last pitched on Wednesday.
Harper is HR king
Bryce Harper thrilled the home crowd and surely made his father proud, winning the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night with an exceptional display of power that carried him past Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs, 19-18.
Harper hit the contest-winning blast in extra time, the reward for hitting two homers at least 440 feet during the four minutes of regulation.
After he connected with the winner, the Nationals slugger threw his bat in the air and pointed both index fingers toward the sky as streamers rained upon the crowd of 43,698.
Harper arranged to have his father, Ron, pitch to him in the annual contest on the eve of the All-Star Game. Harper, a six-time NL All-Star, responded with a performance that drew the loudest cheers of the night.
Wearing a headband that resembled the District of Columbia flag and displaying a right sleeve with stars and stripes, Harper trailed, 18-9, with 1:20 left before rallying.
Schwarber hit the most home runs in the derby with 55 through three rounds.
As J.D. Martinez spoke to reporters, agent Scott Boras was at his side. Bora nodded when Martinez said he would entertain any offer from the Red Sox to renegotiate his contract and eliminate the opt-out clauses in his deal. The first of those comes after the 2019 season . . . In Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge, Hinch had two right fielders to work into the lineup. He kept Betts in right and moved Judge to left. “Mookie has won a couple of Gold Gloves out in right,” Hinch said when asked his reasoning . . . Craig Kimbrel’s eight-month daughter, Lydia Joy, accompanied him to the game. The Red Sox closer missed much of spring training while she was hospitalized following heart surgery . . . MLB will honor 30 Medal of Honor winners before the game Tuesday. Those being recognized include 78-year-old Thomas Kelly of Boston and 76-year-old Harry Barnum of Cheshire, Conn. Both men were decorated for gallantry during the Vietnam War.