FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager John Farrell made it official this morning, announcing that Jon Lester will start against the Yankees on Monday in New York.
“It is Jon Lester,” Farrell said, confirming what has been obvious for weeks now.
Lester will face CC Sabathia at Yankee Stadium at 1:05 p.m.
“He was probably targeted all along [for Opening Day]. But at the same time didn’t want that to be a focal point,” Farrell said. “His work that was needed and the adjustments that he’s continued to reinforce and repeat on the mound were the priorities. Felt like it was important to focus on the needs of spring training for every pitcher including Jon.”
It will be the third consecutive Opening Day assignment for Lester, a 29-year-old lefthander. The last Red Sox pitcher to start three consecutive Opening Days was Pedro Martinez, who started seven in a row from 1998-2004.
Lester was 9-14 with a 4.82 earned run average last season in 33 starts. He has had a terrific spring training, allowing two earned runs over 20 innings.
“What Jon has done is gotten back to a delivery that is similar to his in the past,” Farrell said. “I think he’s executing the pitches with the consistency which we’ve seen before, which made him one of the top lefthanders in the game. He’s had a very strong spring training.”
Lester was 1-1 with a 3.90 ERA in five starts against the Yankees last season.
The Red Sox will follow Lester with Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront and John Lackey.
“I think we’re encouraged by every pitcher in camp,” Farrell said. “From a pitching standpoint this has been a very consistent spring training. There’s been solid progression made individually and as a group.”