Lester satisfied with final tuneup
Next stop Texas after 77 pitches
Jon Lester always would prefer 15 up and 15 down in his first five innings, whether it’s a spring training intrasquad game like yesterday’s, or in the frenzied atmosphere of Yankee Stadium.
What he got at the Red Sox player development complex in Fort Myers, Fla., against mostly Triple A hitters, however, was a hodgepodge of errors, broken-bat hits, and mistake pitches that were hit for extra bases. He got a lot of practice pitching from the stretch in his final outing before he starts things off on Opening Day against Texas Friday.
“I think for the most part, I was happy with it,’’ Lester said. “I was up and down five times, got to the pitch count [pitching coach] Curt [Young] wanted me to get to , pitched out of some jams . . . we had some errors and I had to overcome that. I think it was pretty good as far as preparing for the season.
“Just about everything that could happen in a game happened. Just try to control your emotions and concentrate on the next pitch.’’
Boston’s ace, who threw to Jason Varitek, allowed five runs, four earned, on nine hits with no walks, and five strikeouts. Ryan Kalish laced two doubles, Lars Anderson stroked a triple to the right-center, and Luis Exposito belted a two-run homer during a confidence-building day for the Pawtucket-bound hitters.
“There’s always things to be worked on and I was able to do that today,’’ Lester said. “On a lot of pitches, I thought I threw them pretty good, but didn’t get the results I wanted. A lot of broken-bat hits, off the end [of the bat]. Made one mistake to a big, strong guy [Exposito] and he hit the ball a long way. I felt overall better than what the results showed.’’
Lester again downplayed the significance of supplanting Josh Beckett as Opening Day starter.
“It doesn’t matter what position [Beckett] is in, Lack [John Lackey], or anyone else,’’ he said. “I think guys look up to [Beckett] and respect him. It’s just a number next to his name.
“The best thing is we all get into a flow. If we can pitch 30 starts apiece and do what we’re supposed to, we’re going to be special. I think we’re all a big believer in that. Curt Schilling was a big believer in that. In ’04, I don’t think any of our starters missed a start that year. That’s pretty special. In ’07, that wasn’t the case, but the guys who filled in accepted their role. If we can keep doing that, we’ll be all right.
“I don’t think it’s any more than pitching Game 1 of playoffs or Game 4 of the World Series. I’ve pitched in more meaningful games. I’m going to use things from those games and use it in Game 1.’’
Streak continues Baltimore scored three runs in the eighth inning to beat the Sox, 4-3, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.
The Sox (12-19-1) have lost a team-record 10 consecutive games in spring training, according to baseball historian Bill Nowlin.
Five of Baltimore’s expected Opening Day starters, Luke Scott, Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds, Matt Wieters, and J.J. Hardy had consecutive hits off Santo Luis, a 27-year-old career minor leaguer. That accounted for the three runs in the eighth.
“You’re talking to a guy who cheats when he plays his kids in Monopoly,’’ Sox manager Terry Francona said. “So I want to win. I don’t think it’s creating an atmosphere of panic. Sometimes you put some young kids out there. Like the kid Luis, I was hoping he’d throw strikes. He threw strikes, but they hit the ball.’’
Matt Albers and Dennys Reyes, who are waiting to learn their status, each pitched. Albers, who played the last three seasons for the Orioles, allowed a run on three hits and two walks over 1 1/3 innings. Reyes allowed a hit and a walk, but escaped trouble in one inning. The Sox plan to announce their roster no later than tomorrow. “I’ve kind of been through it before,’’ Albers said. “It’s in the back of your head even though it’s coming up pretty soon. You just try and put it out of your mind and pitch.’’ Reyes was signed to a major league contract Saturday and likely has made the team . . . Kevin Youkilis and Carl Crawford will skip the game in Dunedin, Fla., today and get extra at-bats in a minor league game. Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard will pitch at the complex, too . . . Pat Sajak of “Wheel of Fortune’’ threw out the first pitch.
Nick Cafardo reported from Fort Myers, Fla., and Peter Abraham reported from Sarasota, Fla.