FORT MYERS, Fla. – Before taking the mound Wednesday against Miami, Jon Lester knew he was going to be the Boston Red Sox’s opening-day starter.
Manager John Farrell made the announcement earlier in the day. Lester then went out and threw four scoreless innings, giving up two hits with no walks and four strikeouts in a 4-1 loss.
“It’s been a real good spring for him,” said Farrell. “He’s been sharp. He’s been consistent. Today was no different. Multiple pitches for strikes. He’d had the benefit of pitching against this club previously so I think he had some understanding of their aggressiveness.
“And once again, very much in control. Made some quality pitches on the rare occasion he did get behind in the count. But a very good spring for Jon.”
In six spring outings spanning 24 innings, Lester has allowed two runs on eight hits and four walks with 20 strikeouts. With an ERA of 0.75, he said his spring couldn’t have gone much better.
“It’s been great,” Lester said. “From not just a pitching aspect. I would say from just day one it’s just been smooth. It’s been crisp. A lot of energy from the guys. It’s been a good spring all around, I think, for everybody.”
Red Sox right-hander Daniel Bard, competing for a bullpen spot after a disastrous attempt at starting last season, gave up three runs in the seventh. In eight spring appearances over eight innings, Bard has a 6.75 ERA.
“Frustrating,” Bard said. “I felt like I actually threw the ball pretty well. One thing I think I didn’t do well was throw my off-speed for strikes. That allowed them to sit on the fastball a bit. They were finding holes, I guess. Not going to dwell on it too much. Can’t get too wrapped up in results in spring training.”
NOTES: Following Lester in Boston’s rotation will be Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront and John Lackey. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway was optioned to Triple-A, and right-handers Anthony Carter and Jose De La Torre were reassigned to minor league camp. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (ankle) and right fielder Shane Victorino (wrist) were out of Boston’s lineup with injuries. Both are expected to play Thursday. Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz took batting practice before the game, his first session since being shut down two weeks ago to rest his sore heels. Shortstop Stephen Drew also took batting practice for the first time since suffering a concussion March 7 when he was hit in the helmet by a pitch. The Marlins announced right-hander Ricky Nolasco will start on opening day, followed by Nathan Eovaldi, Wade LeBlanc, Henderson Alvarez and Kevin Slowey. Marlins second baseman Donovan Solana, who has been sidelined for a week with a sore back, played in a minor league game.