Boston manager John Farrell announced Thursday that Lester will pitch Monday in Baltimore against the Orioles. The news came as no surprise, but Farrell had waited to make an announcement.
''I know, it is earth-shattering,'' he quipped.
It will be Lester's fourth consecutive opening day start, the fifth-longest streak in team history behind Pedro Martinez (seven), Roger Clemens (seven), Dennis Eckersley (five) and Cy Young (five).
Lester went 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 33 starts and 213 1-3 innings last year, helping the Red Sox to their third World Series championship in 10 years. The 30-year-old left-hander is 100-56 with a 3.76 ERA in eight seasons with Boston.
''He has become a very good pitcher at a young age,'' Farrell said. ''For a guy that has made that number of starts for a franchise as storied as this, it speaks volumes.''
Lester is 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 13 postseason appearances, including 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts last year. He went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in two World Series starts against St. Louis.
Lester, who can become a free agent after the season, has been in talks with the Red Sox about a new contract. Farrell has been impressed with the way Lester has handled the situation.
''Since the talks have started, he has done a very good job of compartmentalizing it,'' Farrell said. ''He's been able to focus on the task at hand. He's been able to concentrate and maintain his focus. It speaks to his mental strength.''
In three appearances this spring, Lester is 1-1 with a 0.71 ERA. He has given up one earned run over 12 2-3 innings with three walks and 14 strikeouts.
NOTES: The Red Sox placed reliever Craig Breslow on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left shoulder strain. RHP Steven Wright also was put on the 15-day DL as he recovers from sports hernia surgery. Both moves were retroactive to March 21.
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