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John Farrell on Salk & Holley: ‘There are some basics [Jon Lester] has got to get back to’

06.12.13 at 3:47 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell, in his weekly interview on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, reiterated that despite his recent struggles (including a 6.90 ERA in his last five starts), left-hander Jon Lester is healthy.

“Talking to him and every report coming out of every game, following, what he goes through leading up to his start, there are no additional needs as far as heat, stretching,” noted Farrell. “Healthwise, everything is there.”

Instead, Farrell suggested that there are inconsistencies in the delivery that have made it difficult for Lester to command his fastball to his glove side — getting inside against right-handers and working away from lefties — that have resulted in his recent struggles. Those delivery inconsistencies, in turn, have resulted in diminished confidence in his pitches and a subsequent performance struggle. Lester’s poor outing on Tuesday — in which he gave up seven runs and matched a career-worst yield of seven walks — represented the height of what Farrell called “the inconsistency to go to a spot in the strike zone, to either establish a certain at-bat or to get back to a pitch in the count.”

Farrell said that he, pitching coach Juan Nieves and Lester met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the left-hander’s struggles.

“Just having a chance to sit down and review some things with him here today, there are some basics that he’s got to get back to, particularly that’s been throwing his fastball to his glove side, in to a right-hander and down-and-away to a left-hander. That locks his delivery in, to allow him to feel his hand and to execute all his other pitches more consistently. In a nutshell, that’s the one thing we continue to strive at in a review of last night’s game,” said Farrell. “Last night was really an example of him drifting from what his strengths usually are, and that is to establish his fastball to a certain side of the plate. Most other pitches work off of that. I don’t think he gave himself a chance to do just that.”

Farrell also touched on a few additional topics. Among them:

On Rays manager Joe Maddon’s suggestion that John Lackey was not being a good teammate by putting other members of the Red Sox in harm’s way when he hit Matt Joyce with a pitch:

“John Lackey is a very good teammate as far as I’m concerned,” said Farrell. “I don’t think [Lackey] threw at [Joyce] with intent. … I didn’t take any exception to the 3-0 swing or the bat being dropped [by Joyce after a home run], either. John was trying to create some room to recapture the outside part of the plate. He hits him. There’s an exchange.”

As for whether it was appropriate for Maddon to evaluate Lackey’s fitness as a teammate, Farrell — who noted that Maddon and Lackey have a prior relationship from their time together with the Angels, where Maddon was bench coach — had little to offer.

“I can’t control what he says. I have no idea what goes on with the Tampa Rays,” said Farrell. “People will say things as they wish.”

On whether Will Middlebrooks remains the Sox’ everyday third baseman, at a time when Jose Iglesias has been delivering tremendous impact:

“He is. He’s back in there tonight,” said Farrell. “I think it’s important that we get Iglesias in the mix. We’ll do so. But Middlebrooks is our third baseman.”

Farrell said that while Iglesias was unlikely to be an everyday player as he was while Middlebrooks was on the DL, the opportunity to use him to rest Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia and Stephen Drew while also giving the Sox an alternative to Drew against left-handed starters would allow the Sox to keep Iglesias involved.

Farrell praised Iglesias’ attitude regarding the utility role.

“He’s fully on board with what’s been outlined,” said Farrell.

Read More: Joe Maddon, john lackey, Jon Lester, jose iglesias
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