By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Red Sox turned to Jon Lester Sunday to snap them out of their worst losing streak since April. For one day at least, that trust was misplaced.
Lester labored through a 43-pitch first inning during which the Tampa Bay Rays scored three times. Thanks to the early elevated pitch count, Lester was done after just four innings, having thrown 111 pitches.
The three runs in the first were more than Lester allowed in his first three previous starts combined.
"He was kind of scattering balls," said Terry Francona of his lefty, "and you could tell by the pitch count how hard they were making him work."
"I didn't have anything today," confessed Lester who lost for the first time since Aug. 10. "It was one of those days where I had no command of one pitch. I didn't have a pitch that could get me back into counts.
"No excuses. I just picked the wrong time to have one of these."
After the three runs in the first, Lester battled and stranded two runners in the second and allowed just one run over his final three innings.
But the Sox weren't having any success against James Shields and the 4-1 deficit seemed far bigger than it was.
"He doesn't give up a ton of runs because he's good," said Francona. "But that was real hard work for him today."
The outing was the shortest for Lester since July 5 when he lasted just four innings against Toronto.
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Big Papi's "spring training" involves a beach chair -- not a baseball bat.
The former Boston Red Sox slugger made it clear on Instagram that he has no interest in returning to Jet Blue Park to begin training for the 2017 MLB season.
He announced in Nov. 2015 he would be retiring after the 2016 season, and he appears completely content with that decision despite speculation of his return to MLB. Ortiz posted a video on Sunday of himself in a beach chair reclined and relaxed.
"What's up [Instagram]. Oh, so good be retired. At the beach with the familia, the ladies. Big Papi in the bulding. This is my spring training. How 'bout dat? Enjoy. See you when I see you. Peace," he said, and then chuckled.
Ortiz's video came a few days after Hanley Ramirez said that if Ortiz made a return to baseball, he would be doing it, in part, for Ramirez, because they miss each other.
WBZ's Dan Roche then tweeted out Ramirez's comment on Thursday, and Big Papi waited no time to respond. Within 16 minutes, Ortiz had responded to reiterate he would not be returning to the Sox.
Jackie Bradley Jr. will likely have a spotless attendance record for White House trips.
The Boston Red Sox outfielder began discussing those championship trips to meet the president after Red Sox chairman Tom Werner referenced the New England Patriots' Super Bowl win at a team get-together on Friday morning.
“If my team is going, yes, I’m going,” Bradley Jr. told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, adding later, “I don’t like politics, not even a little bit.”
The Patriots so far have six players who have openly stated they will not attend New England's White House trip to meet President Donald Trump. Team leaders like Dont'a Hightower and Devin McCourty are among those unwilling to attend.
For Bradley, the White House trip is not about making a political statement.
“The reason why we’re going there is because we did something together as a team. The White House is cool,” he said. “I’m with my team."
The 26-year-old outfielder has twice attended the championship trip to the nation's capital. In college, he went with the South Carolina Gamecocks after they won the College World Series. He later attended with the Red Sox in 2013. Bradley Jr. said he enjoyed attending the White House to meet Barack Obama, but added he wasn't concerned with which president was hosting the event.
He said: “How many people can say they’ve been to the White House? That alone. There is a lot history there, and I’m a big fan of architecture. I think the whole thing is unique.”