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Jon Lester talks Opening Day start, successful spring training

03.27.13 at 4:07 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ After throwing four scoreless innings in his final spring training outing, Jon Lester relayed his excitement over being named Opening Day starter for a third straight season.

‘€œAll the words ‘€“ honor, privilege ‘€“ all of that, especially for this organization, to be named that,’€ he said. ‘€œI take it with great pride, and I’€™ll go out thee and give it a good start and hopefully get this team off to a good start this season.’€

With appearance against the Marlins at JetBlue Park Wednesday ‘€“ in which he allowed two hits while striking out four and not walking a batter ‘€“ Lester lowered his spring training ERA to 0.75.

It was has been two months of encouragement for the lefty, who talked about the specific alterations he has made from last season.

“Stand tall. It sounds simple. It really does. It sounds easy. For whatever reason, it morphed through 2011 into 2012, and I fell into some bad habits and couldn’t get myself out of them until the middle of last year,’€ he said. ‘€œI felt like we made a lot of adjustments, and that was the beginning to this year, right after the All-Star break, we finally overhauled everything and got back to being me, using my frame. I was pitching like a guy who was 5-10 as opposed to 6-4. It makes a big difference on the way the ball comes in the zone. Having good results, when you’re making adjustments like that, always help.

‘€œWhen you’re battling through some tough times and not getting results, it’s hard to buy into them, but I had to buy into it from day one and have been able to do that and get good results this spring.”

Lester finishes his spring having pitched a total of 30 innings (including one minor-league game), striking out 20 and walking four.

‘€œI think in spring, you could look at it both ways,’€ he said. ‘€œYou can look at is as, OK, I’€™m hitting my stride at the right time. I’€™m finally clicking and things are going good. Like I’€™ve said after each one, it’€™s good to have good results. It reinforces all the work you put into it and the adjustments and you see the swings at certain pitches and it’€™s like, ‘€˜Man, this is me.’€™ With that being said, there’€™s still going to be times where you get waffled. That’€™s just part of being a pitcher. I think those times will be few and far between.’€

While the solid start was nothing new, the revelation that Lester would be the starter on April 1 was.

It has been long assumed that Lester would be called on to make the Opening Day start. But it wasn’€™t until Wednesday morning that the suspense was cut short.

‘€œI had to get here a little early, earlier than normal for a start day,’€ he said. ‘€œ[Red Sox manager John Farrell] wanted to meet with me before he met with y’€™all. This morning. Officially. Finally. It was good.’€

Lester, who becomes the first Red Sox pitcher to start three straight openers since Pedro Martinez‘€™ run of seven straight, turned in a solid Opening Day outing against Detroit last season. The lefty only allowed one run over seven innings in the Red Sox’€™ loss.

The start against the Tigers was a vast improvement over his initial Opening Day appearance, in which he took the loss in Texas, having surrendered five runs over five innings.

‘€œThe hardest part of Opening Day, I would say, is just all the hoopla,’€ Lester said. ‘€œAll the stuff leading up to first pitch. Once the first pitch is there, it’€™s the same game. I think that goes back to guys first start in the playoffs, first start in the World Series. It’€™s just a lot of stuff that builds up to that first pitch. Once you get out there and the quicker you realize, OK, this is just like five days ago in Fort Myers, only it means something, the easier it is to kind of get through that. I think the first one was the hardest. Last year was a lot more normal as far as building up to a start for me.’€

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