BOSTON – Boston is 5-2. Such a good start is not surprising when you look at the combined numbers of its top two pitchers:

Jon Lester: 2-0, 1.50 ERA.

Clay Buchholz: 2-0, 0.64 ERA.

“Both guys have thrown the ball exceptionally well,” Manager John Farrell said. “Any time you get that kind of starting pitching, it’s going to give you a chance to win some games late. They are extremely important to us.

“To have two guys at the front end starting the season as they are, as consistent as they are, it’s a very good tone.”

JOHN LACKEY does not appear to have a tear in his right biceps muscle, as was feared when he left Saturday’s game in Toronto. Farrell said initial tests have revealed only swelling of the muscle.

“Following the MRI, it showed some inflammation in the bicep. That’s been it,” Farrell said.

Farrell was due to have more exams on Monday, the results of which were not yet known — or at least announced to the media.

Because of Tuesday’s day off, the fifth starter is not needed until Sunday. Farrell said it’s unlikely Lackey could pitch Sunday, but added, “we’re not at the point of saying he’s a DL.”

If Boston put Lackey on the disabled list, he would have to miss 15 days. Meanwhile, it appears Alfredo Aceves is the top candidate to fill in.

OTHER INJURY NEWS includes designated hitter David Ortiz playing in a simulated game at the Red Sox complex in Fort Myers, Fla. According to Farrell, Ortiz went 2 for 4 with a double and single. More importantly, he ran the bases without a problem.

Ortiz, still recovering from a bothersome Achilles tendon, could begin a rehab assignment by the end of the week.

Two left-handers are also in Fort Myers, ready to take part in simulated and extended spring training games — Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow.

ANDREW BAILEY lost his closer job last year to injury and this year when Boston traded for Joel Hanrahan. But Bailey is solid as a setup man.

Bailey turned in his third scoreless outing, retiring the side in the eighth, two by strikeout.

“One thing we’re seeing is the swing and miss at fastballs up in the strike zone, which was really his calling card in Oakland,” Farrell said. “To have two closers come out of that bullpen is a luxury.”

JOSE IGLESIAS went 0 for 3 Monday, but is still batting .450. Yet Iglesias may not be in Fenway much longer. Farrell has made it clear that shortstop Stephen Drew will get his job back once he is done with his rehab assignment in Portland.

Drew is expected back with the Red Sox for their next game, Wednesday.

“No one will take away what (Iglesias) has done,” Farrell said. “If it turns out that that’s the move (and Iglesias goes to the minors), much like any player who has gotten off to a good start, it would be hard to swallow.

“There has to be an understanding where he’s at in terms of the organization.”

In other words, Iglesias is the backup to Drew this year. Next year? Should be different.

JACKIE BRADLEY JR. got off to a good start in New York. Even though he was only 2 for 10, he had three walks, three RBI and two strikeouts. In Toronto, Bradley was 1 for 11, with two walks, no RBI and five strikeouts.

That prompted Farrell to replace Bradley with Daniel Nava in left field. But Bradley could be back in left Wednesday against right-hander Jake Arrieta.

OPENING CEREMONIES focused on the 60th anniversary of the Red Sox relationship with the Jimmy Fund, the fundraising organization for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Doctors and patients of Dana-Farber were accompanied by former players to the mound for the ceremonial first pitch.

THE QUOTE OF THE DAY came from Farrell. He began his Red Sox stint as manager in Yankee Stadium and then Toronto, where fans heckled him constantly for leaving the Blue Jays for Boston. When asked how he enjoyed Monday’s home opener, Farrell smiled.

“After a weekend of boos, today was really good.”

Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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