FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — As bad as 2012 was for the Boston Red Sox, it was equally bad for Jon Lester. So, count him among the many players itching to get back at it.
Lester, a left-hander, went 9-14 with a career-high 4.82 ERA last year. That he posted a team-high 17 quality starts only highlighted the frustration that enveloped the team all season. In the second half, as the Red Sox saw any hope of a respectable season slipping away, Lester was 4-8 with a 5.23 ERA. As a result, he became one of the poster boys for a team that symbolized dysfunction. In the end, the Red Sox finished 69-93 and in last place of the American League East.
So, Lester, who turned 29 in January and is entering his eighth season, knows many eyes will be on him this season. And without veteran Josh Beckett, among other familiar faces, in the Boston rotation this year, he knows what his role is.
“I love it. It’s great. Bring it on,” he said Wednesday, a day after pitchers and catchers reported to JetBlue Park. “Because what you guys expect of me is nothing (compared to what) I expect of myself. I expect a lot. That’s why as far as me being serious, that’s why I am the way I am. I try to live up to my own expectations before everybody else’s. Obviously, that’s never going to happen.
“But I take my job serious and I want to reach those (expectations). Just because I don’t doesn’t mean it’s a failed season.”
Boston manager John Farrell, who was the Red Sox pitching coach from 2007-10, could be a key. After two years as manager in Toronto, he is back with the Red Sox and Lester, who had some of his best seasons during Farrell’s previous tenure.