Lester's aim: Make start as good as finish

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Lester's aim: Make start as good as finish

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good as he's been the last three years (50-23 with a 3.29 ERA), Jon Lester can't seem to get off to a good start when the regular season begins.

Last year, he won just one game before May and had an ERA of 4.71. The year before it was more of the same, with a 1-2 mark and a 5.40 ERA in April.

Lester has tried everything he can think of to change his performance early in the season. So this year, he's trying something else: nothing.

"It is what it is," shrugged Lester. "At the end of the season, it all comes out in the wash. We've tinkered with different things down here in the past. I'm just going to get ready for April. Whatever happens, happens.

"I'm going to try to put myself in the best position to go out and win every game I pitch. That's all I can control. Like I said, it all comes out OK at the end of the season and that's all I'm worried about."

Indeed, Lester has won almost 75 percent of his starts after the first few months of the last three seasons. He's frustrated by starting poorly, but at this point, there's little else he can do to change his luck.

"Obviously, I don't want to go out there and suck," he said. "I know that I'm going to get on a roll. I know I'm going to pitch well eventually and the earlier I can do it, great. If I can't, I'm still going to go out there and compete and try to win and give everything I've got."

If improving his early-season performance isn't something he can impact, Lester does believe that he can improve his command.

"Walks -- that's the main thing to me," said Lester. "Too many free passes last year. Too many long innings, too many two-out walks that just add 10-12 extra pitches that aren't needed. That's an extra inning, or an extra arm out of the bullpen."

Toward that end, Lester will work on fine-tuning his delivery some, but believes most of the walks come from a lack of focus.

"Sometimes you get two quick outs and I think I'm out of this inning," he said. "And you're really not. You walk a guy or give up a stupid base hit, where you weren't focused because you already had two outs.

"It's all mental. It's all about trying to keep that edge. Go after guys - I'd rather give up more hits than walks."

One other sticking point for Lester was his inability to reach 20 victories. He had a chance in the final week of the season against the Chicago White Sox, but failed and was left at 19 wins.

"It was the last start, so it's the last thing I remember," Lester said. "It left a little bitter taste in my mouth this off-season. It took a little while to get over it. But this is a new season. I'll move on and worry about some other things now and try to it all over again, I guess."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Pomeranz 'pretty comfortable' with potential move to bullpen

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Pomeranz 'pretty comfortable' with potential move to bullpen

NEW YORK -- If Drew Pomeranz is going to be part of the Red Sox' postseason plans, the team will likely have a better idea about that question by Thursday afternoon.

Pomeranz, who was scratched from his final scheduled start on Thursday because of soreness in his left forearm and general concern about his 2016 workload, will throw a 30-35 pitch bullpen.

If he responds well, he could then see some relief action over the final weekend at Fenway to determine his readiness for the playoffs.

"Before we even begin to map out a potential relief appearance over the weekend,'' said John Farrell, "we've got to get through that next step.''

Pomeranz pitched well in his last start at Tropicana Field over the weekend, but has been dealing with some discomfort in his forearm.

"I've had some soreness here, late in the year,'' Pomeranz said. "I've thrown more innings than I have ever (before), so we kind of sat down and talked about the best course of action the rest of the way.''

Pomeranz described what he felt as "just some soreness, probably from never covering this time of the year. It's a spot I've never been in before. We just decided the best thing to do was not making this last start and talk about maybe sliding into the bullpen.''

The lefty is no stranger to the bullpen, having pitched there as recently as last season while with Oakland.

"I've had the benefit of doing pretty much everything (in terms of roles),'' he said. "I'm pretty comfortable in any situation. If they see me helping there, obviously, that's where I want to be. But I don't know if it's a sure thing. We'll have to see how it goes.''

Meanwhile, another sidelined starter, Steven Wright, is expected to rejoin the team in Boston Friday. Wright threw a bullpen off the mound earlier this week in Fort Myers as he attempts to come back from inflammation in his shoulder.

 

Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

The Red Sox try again to nail down the A.L. East crown tonight, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against the Yankees while needed just one victory -- or one Toronto defeat -- to clinch the division.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Brock Holt 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Sandy Leon C
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Clay Buchholz P

YANKEES:
Brett Gardner LF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Gary Sanchez C
Brian McCann DH
Starlin Castro 2B
Didi Gregorious SS
Mark Texeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Mason Williams RF
----
Bryan Mitchell P