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Monday, July 23, 2012
Manager talks to slumping Jon Lester

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Manager Bobby Valentine spoke with his struggling starter Jon Lester before Monday night's game against the Rangers because the Red Sox want to formulate a plan to revive the left-hander.

There was some question whether Valentine would skip Lester in his next scheduled start, but the manager said after Monday's 9-1 loss that Lester would start against the Yankees on Saturday in New York.

"We've got a proactive plan," Valentine said. "He's going to throw Wednesday, maybe to a couple of hitters and get a feel for a couple of his pitches. He says he feels great and is throwing the ball as well as he has in a couple of years. We've just got to get him to a point where his good stuff is getting hitters out and he says he's ready to do that."

Valentine had earlier said that he and his ace pitcher had "to talk and figure it out. We're not solving the world corn crisis."

"You let him know that if you're that far down, there's only one way to go and that's up," he said. "I believe in him. I know nobody else in this room does, but I do. That's a good start and maybe if he's sitting in here that will make two of us by the time he leaves."

Earlier in the clubhouse, team trainer Mike Reinold was sitting and talking with rehabbing pitcher Rich Hill when Lester came over and the two walked away. Both Lester and Valentine maintain that Lester is healthy.

"He's not hurt, that's for sure," Valentine said. "He says he feels fine."

In his last three starts, Lester has allowed 21 earned runs on 25 hits, including five home runs with 10 walks and 12 strikeouts. His ERA is a career-worst 5.46.

When asked how important it would be to get both Lester and fellow starter Josh Beckett pitching well, Valentine said: "We have five guys who pitch every fifth day and they're all important when the game begins and they've got to give us a chance to let the offense start swinging."