John Farrell finally announces Jon Lester as Opening Day starter

March 27, 2014 - 2:43 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Spring training'€™s worst-kept secret became public Thursday afternoon. Jon Lester will be the Red Sox'€™ Opening Day starter. Even though he had insinuated Lester would receive his fourth career Opening Day start throughout camp, Red Sox manager John Farrell always stopped short of officially making the announcement. But prior to the Sox'€™ third-to-last spring training game, against the Twins at JetBlue Park, Farrell finally made the March 31 start in Baltimore official. "Oh yeah, Jon Lester is," said Farrell when asked about the designation Thursday. "I know, earth-shattering news, and the world is round. So he starts Monday." In last year'€™s opener, Lester allowed two runs over five innings against the Yankees. In total, the lefty has allowed eight runs over 17 1/3 innings in Opening Day starts. Lester'€™s worst opener came in his first try, giving up five runs over 5 1/3 innings during the first game of the 2011 season in Texas. "He's become a very good pitcher at a young age,"€ said Farrell of the 30-year-old. "€œAnd the early trajectory of his career, for a guy that's made that number of starts for a franchise as storied as this, without having gotten to free agency yet, all those things combine. It speaks volumes for a talented guy at a very early age." Lester is coming off a 2013 season in which he went 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA over 33 starts. It was a campaign which was punctuated by his postseason, which saw the southpaw give up just six runs in 34 2/3 innings. Farrell also noted how well Lester has handled the Red Sox'€™ spring training while dealing with contract extension talks. The pitcher has given up one run in 13 1/3 innings of Grapefruit League action, having also pitched in two minor league games. "He's done a very good job of it,"€ said Farrell of Lester balancing contract talks and on-field preparation. "I'm sure, in his mind, there was some anticipation leading up to when the talks began. Since they have started, he's done a very good job balancing it, compartmentalizing those issues off the field and focusing on the task at hand. I think it speaks to how he's able to concentrate and maintain his focus. We see it in situations other than what he's going through, whether it's postseason or otherwise. That speaks to his mental strength."