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Sunday, October 11, 2009
Lester to start Game 4 if series extended


BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona met with the media Sunday morning before Game 3 of the American League Division Series.

Francona said that, if the series is extended beyond a third game, Jon Lester will start Game 4 on Monday night. Lester threw from flat ground at Fenway Park on Saturday, and will be ready if needed. Francona said they approached Lester to make sure he was still strong enough to pitch on short rest, which he would be doing on Monday.

"We said, 'Can you handle this physically? Because if you can't, it's kind of silly,'" Francona said. "We can do all the thinking we want, but if it doesn't feel right, it's not going to work."

Daisuke Matsuzaka will be available out of the bullpen on Sunday, but Francona said he made a promise to the right-hander that he would not enter any innings with runners on base or in progress.

"That's not in his best interest," Francona said. "I'm sure he has some anxiety about that, but we've reassured him, 'Hey, if we use you, it will be clean innings,' things like that."

Francona said Matsuzaka was on board with the team's plan because he wants to win.

"He was wanting to help out wherever he could," Francona said. "You get to this time of year, and most of the time that's what guys do. I'm sure he would love to start. I hope he would like to. And I hope there's a time when he can. We thought this was in our best interest. We thought this was our best chance to win. "

Francona said the players know what's at stake, and there would be no need for a pregame meeting. It's pretty simple: Lose, and they go home.

"Our guys understand what to do," he said. "We communicate enough. If I have to go out there and have a Knute Rockne speech, we'll be in trouble."

One thing to consider about Sunday's game: Around the fifth or sixth inning the shadows could come into play, affecting the way the hitters see the ball.