3/26/2014 5:47 P.M. ET
Lester optimistic about contract talks
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox ace Jon Lester is pleased with the state of his contract negotiations with the club.
"Like [general manager] Ben [Cherington] said the other day, both sides are optimistic about it," said Lester. "And the biggest thing is that really anytime you're talking about something like this, the biggest thing is communication. But as long as both ends are open and we're communicating, there's always that chance of something getting done."
Though Cherington said earlier this week he'd like to have the situation resolved by Opening Day on Monday, Lester doesn't think that date is a be-all, end-all, considering the generally pleasant nature of the talks.
"Like I said last week, I think if we're close, both sides have agreed we're not just going to end something just to end something because it's Opening Day," said Lester. "If we're close, yeah, we'll carry it over. I don't think that's a distraction. But I feel like if things are nowhere near being done, yeah, that's a good thing for both sides. You can come out and say what needs to be said about it and put it on the back burner and worry about playing baseball then."
All along, Lester has made it clear that he'd much rather stay with the Red Sox for the rest of his career than test free agency at the end of the 2014 season, even if it means sacrificing a few dollars on the open market.
Asked about reports that Max Scherzer recently turned down a substantial extension with the Tigers, Lester's response was somewhat telling in terms of where his mind is at.
"I mean that stuff is hard to comment on because you don't know. I'm not him. I don't ever want to talk bad upon anybody. That's his decision. I'm not going to bad mouth anybody," said Lester. "They have their own beliefs, their own mindset, their own representation, and so I mean, personally, if that's me, that's hard to walk away from. But he's betting on himself. Maybe he really deep down wants to be a free agent.
"We don't get to do it very often. Maybe that's his ultimate thing, he wants to do it, I don't know. I don't know him. I've never spoken to the guy so I can't really comment on that. But as far as personally, that would be hard."
Lester had his final tuneup on Wednesday in advance of his start on Opening Day, firing six innings in a Minor League game.
Instead of game, Ortiz has work day in cage
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Instead of playing against the Orioles on Wednesday, David Ortiz had a work day in the cage with hitting coaches Greg Colbrunn and Victor Rodriguez.
The lefty slugger is 2-for-35 in Spring Training with 12 strikeouts.
"He's going to go through his normal early work pregame and he'll get some extra work in the cage with Vic and Colby," said manager John Farrell. "It's going to be more of a specific work day for him."
Though Ortiz's spring slump isn't of any concern to the Red Sox, particularly considering his history of quiet performances in the Grapefruit League, he is trying to work on a few fundamentals before Opening Day on Monday in Baltimore.
"Yeah, that's why he and Colby and Vic are going to get in there, and I know they've been looking at some video with what's taken place here in camp," said Farrell. "I think it's more repetition and getting back to maintaining the work routine."
Last year, as he was battling back from an Achilles tendon injury, Ortiz didn't play in Spring Training and responded with a terrific regular season and postseason.
"Last year he didn't have any at-bats," said Farrell. "He had 15 at-bats in Triple-A on a rehab assignment before he came to us. I think there's more of an understanding of what he needs and knowing that if he feels comfortable in the box and he's seeing the ball well, then everything is going to fall into place. Last year certainly proved that."
Victorino out again, but on track for Opening Day
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino, who was out of the lineup again Wednesday and has played just eight games in Spring Training, remains on track to start on Opening Day in Baltimore on Monday.
"Sure it would be nice if there were more than eight games, but there haven't been," said manager John Farrell. "He's going to be our right fielder on Opening Day, I can tell you that."
The last couple of days, Victorino didn't play because of discomfort in his left side.
"He is improved," said Farrell. "He would be playing if we were in the regular season, and he was really cleared to play today. I felt like with where we are in camp, another day, just precautionary is where we're at in keeping him out of the lineup."
Earlier in camp, Victorino was held back so that he could strengthen up some of the areas of his body that plagued him at times last season.
Now that Victorino is hitting exclusively right-handed instead of switch-hitting, Farrell thinks he won't need as much time as in previous springs to find his hitting stroke.
"I thought his timing was starting to be a little more consistent the last couple of times out," said Farrell. "This has been a little bump in the road. We're expecting him back on the field tomorrow."
• Aside from the center-field battle between Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr., the only other roster spot up for grabs is the final spot in the bullpen, assuming Craig Breslow starts the season on the disabled list. However, the Red Sox seem to be leaning toward Brandon Workman to fill that spot.
Asked if he was worried about the toll on his bullpen with so few off-days in April, Farrell might have tipped his hand when he said, "I think that's why you look at the composition of the bullpen, and having guys who can go multiple innings is important. [Chris] Capuano can certainly do that. Workman, as we know, can. [Burke] Badenhop has been a guy that's been able to do that in the past or recently, even last year. We feel like we've got multiple options if that comprises our bullpen."
• Daniel Nava again played center field in a Minor League game on Wednesday, as he continues to try to gain enough comfort to become a backup option at that position.