3/27/2014 10:58 P.M. ET
Lester happy to back Motte's efforts
By Quinn Roberts / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As a cancer survivor, Jon Lester was happy to put his support behind Cardinals reliever Jason Motte and his effort to raise money for those affected by cancer.
Lester is Boston's representative for the Let's Strike Out Cancer project, run by the Jason Motte Foundation in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Association. The program is helping raise awareness and funds for cancer research through the sale of team-specific T-shirts.
The website 108stitches.com went live on March 17, with 108 Stitches showcasing the "Strike Out Cancer" tees in each team's colors. Each is promoted by a different player who agreed to join Motte in a partnership that will benefit multiple charities. Each participating player has chosen a charity that will benefit from the T-shirt sales, and for each shirt sold, $5 will go to the Jason Motte Foundation and $5 to a charity of that player's choice. A full list of recipient charities will be listed on the 108 Stitches website soon, along with a photo of each player rep in his team-colored shirt.
"At the end of the day, it's about reaching people," Motte said. "Baseball is great and everything, but there are other really important things going on out there that affect a lot of people. Wearing these T-shirts shows people that they're not alone. They're not sitting there doing chemo by themselves where no one cares. People do care, whether it's friends, family or baseball players. There are people who this has touched and this has affected. This is something we're trying to do to get the word out there and try to raise money to help."
Lester officially given Opening Day start
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the decision all but official for weeks, manager John Farrell finally announced on Thursday that left-hander Jon Lester will be the Opening Day starter in Baltimore on Monday.
"I know, it is earth-shattering," joked Farrell.
The outing will be Lester's fourth consecutive Opening Day start, the longest such streak by a left-hander in Red Sox history.
In eight seasons with Boston, Lester is 100-56 with a 3.76 ERA.
"He has become a very good pitcher at a young age," Farrell said of the 30-year-old Lester. "For a guy that has made that number of starts for a franchise as storied as this, it speaks volumes."
In three starts this spring, Lester is 1-1 with a minuscule 0.71 ERA. Overall, he's tossed 12 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on seven hits. He's struck out 14 and walked just three.
The Red Sox and Lester have been in contract negotiations this spring and are hoping to have the situation resolved by the time he takes the hill on Opening Day.
"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."
Boston places Breslow on 15-day DL
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox placed left-hander Craig Breslow on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder after Thursday's 4-1 win over the Twins. The move is retroactive to March 21, thus Breslow is eligible to come off the DL on April 6.
Breslow has made just three appearances -- all in Minor League games -- this spring, including one on Thursday.
"Today, on the Minor League side, he had a clear step up without overexerting," manager John Farrell said. "We expect this stay to be minimal."
Boston has taken a slower approach with the 33-year-old Breslow this spring, learning from last year, when he was kept out of action until May 6 because of shoulder tendinitis.
"He put up a little bit of a fight. He felt like he could be ready for the start of the season," Farrell said. "We just felt like, similar to last year, we want to build his foundation."
A vital part of last season's championship run, Breslow threw 59 2/3 innings with a 1.81 ERA in 61 games in 2013.
Victorino feeling fine after Minor League game
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shane Victorino wasn't in the starting lineup for Thursday's contest against the Twins, but he did participate in a Minor League game.
In that contest he had six at-bats, tallying three hits and a stolen base, and he played five innings in center field.
"He came out of it feeling well physically, and things would point back to him being in an 'A' game tomorrow," manager John Farrell said. "I think he is ready to go."
Held out of the lineup the past few days because of discomfort in his left side, Victorino took things slowly at the beginning of Spring Training to strengthen the areas that bothered him last season.
"He recognizes that he hasn't had a full complement of games like others have," Farrell said. "The fact that he played instinctually speaks volumes of how he is feeling physically."
In eight games this spring, Victorino is hitting .227 with five hits, one RBI and two walks.
Sox honor fallen firefighters with moment of silence
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the city of Boston reeling after the death of two local firefighters, the Red Sox held a moment of silence before Thursday's game against the Twins at JetBlue Park.
Flags were also placed at half-staff and a flag representing fallen firefighters replaced a Red Sox flag in center field.
The two firefighters, Michael Kennedy and Lt. Edward Walsh, lost their lives on Wednesday while trying to contain the flames in a Back Bay brownstone.
• Farrell said before Thursday's game that if Grady Sizemore makes the Major League roster, he will almost always bat in the middle of the order, not in the leadoff spot. Sizemore hit in the No. 5 spot on Thursday against the Twins.
• Reliever Craig Breslow pitched an inning in a Minor League game on Thursday.
"He had plenty of life on his pitches, and he felt well physically," Farrell said. "The most important thing is the life on his pitches through the zone without overworking to generate it. He feels like he is in a good place."
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.