FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager John Farrell, for reasons that are unclear, has not named Jon Lester as the Opening Day starter. Carrie Mathison couldn't get it out of him.
The big lefthander started the last two openers and has been lined up to face the Yankees on April 1 for several weeks. But Farrell hasn’t budged.
“Nothing’s been confirmed yet,” he said on Sunday.
Even Lester is playing along, saying he has no idea what game he will start.
“I haven’t been told anything,” he said.
Lester’s performance against the Tampa Bay Rays left little doubt. He threw six perfect innings in a 5-1 victory. Lester struck out six and threw 53 of his 79 pitches for strikes against a fairly representative Rays lineup. He got four groundball outs and four pop-ups. Only a few balls were hit well.
Farrell was impressed at how precise Lester was in full counts and his ability to throw different pitches when he did fall behind.
“He pitched with a lot of confidence,” the manager said.
Lester wasn’t overly impressed. The game didn’t count, after all.
“I wouldn’t say it was the best I felt. But I felt pretty good,” he said. “Was able to get in a good rhythm early on. Established our fastball and kind of went from there. I had a good breaking ball today, which was good to see. Been working on that.”
See the Globe on Monday for more on Lester. Meanwhile ...
• Shane Victorino was 1 for 3 in his return to the Red Sox from the World Baseball Classic. He will hit the road for the game against the Pirates in Bradenton on Monday.
Victorino will play right and left field over the next two weeks. The Sox plan to start him in right field at Fenway Park and occasionally in left field on the road depending on the park.
“I’m an outfielder,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me.”
Victorino didn’t get a lot of time in the outfield during the WBC and is anxious to play as often as possible before the season starts.
"I told [Farrell] today that whatever he sees fit for me, I'm ready to go,” Victorino said. “If he wants me to play every day, I'm ready to play every day from now until the end of the season.”
• Jonny Gomes was 3 for 3 with a double and four RBIs, all coming against righthanded pitchers. “I know he wants more opportunities against righthanders,” Farrell said. “You keep in driving in four runs in three at-bats and you’ll keep getting those opportunities.”
Gomes and Rays manager Joe Maddon spent some time talking about wine before the game. Both are connoisseurs. Gomes played for Maddon from 2006-08.
• Will Middlebrooks was 2 for 3 with two doubles. He is 6 of his last 17 with five extra-base hits. None of the extra-base hits were cheapies, either.
• The hope was that David Ortiz (heels) might take batting practice on Monday. But now that is in doubt. “He still felt some discomfort when he was running on the treadmill [on Saturday]. So we’ll see where he’s at as far as being able to get in the cage and take some initial swings [on Monday] or the next couple of days,” Farrell said.
• Franklin Morales (lower back) could start a throwing program in the next couple of days.
• Mitch Maier (left wrist) will out at least a few more days.
• The Red Sox wore their green uniforms and caps on St. Patrick’s Day. The tradition was started in 1990 when Roger Clemens purchased green caps for the entire team.