Lester not reading into being on track for opener

March, 11, 2011
3/11/11
3:31
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox rotation is currently set up in such a way that it would be Jon Lester's turn to pitch the season opener on April 1.

That's a pretty good indicator that that's the plan, although teams can, and often have, tweaked their rotation in the last three weeks of spring training.

What does Lester read into it?

"Absolutely nothing,'' the lefthander said after throwing four scoreless innings against the Twins in Hammond Stadium Friday.

And what should we read into it?

"That’s a question for Tito,'' Lester said, referring to manager Terry Francona, who was with the split-squad of Red Sox who traveled to Kissimmee to play the Astros. "I just pitch when they tell me to pitch. If it lines up that day, so be it. Obviously, I'd be very honored to take the ball that day.

"If not, we've got four other guys in that clubhouse I’d have no problem taking the ball. It's not something I've counted into or figured out. A lot of things can happen between now and then, but we’ll worry about it when that day gets here.''

Lester, who missed a start last Sunday because of the flu, then pitched a simulated game on Monday, struck out five while allowing four hits. He did not walk a batter, and struck out Justin Morneau on the first at-bat by the Twins first baseman in a regularly scheduled game in eight months because of post-concussion syndrome.

"I don't remember him doubling up on curveballs before, at least against me,'' said a smiling Morneau, who looked at the second one for a called third strike.

Lester, relayed Morneau's comment, also smiled. "Spring training,'' he said. "Working on things. Now's the time to try stuff to see how these guys react. If you give up a two-run home run here, it doesn’t matter. If you double up and he stays back and hits it, that's something you put in the filing cabinet. When you face him in the regular season, you remember that.''

Lester has yet to be scored upon in six spring innings.

"The main thing is everything went smoothly,'' he said. "Everything feels good, everything feels healthy, and move on to the next one.''

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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