6/29/2014 12:13 A.M. ET
Lester makes All-Star case with strong outing
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Red Sox lefty Jon Lester will make one more start before the All-Star rosters are announced. His body of work thus far has definitely put him in strong position to earn a trip to Minneapolis for the Midsummer Classic, which will be played on July 15.
Though his record is an unspectacular 9-7, Lester's 2.92 ERA and .248 batting average against is a much better indicator of how he has pitched this season.
Saturday at Yankee Stadium, Lester outpitched Masahiro Tanaka, 2-1, in a classic duel.
"He's been our ace," said John Farrell, who will manage the American League All-Star team. "He's been the guy we've looked to every time he's walked to the mound to give us an opportunity to win."
A two-time All-Star, Lester feels he's having the season people have come to expect.
"I mean, I don't want to be a [wise guy], but I've been pretty good for about eight years. I don't think this is any surprise for people," said Lester. "There have been times this year when I've gotten out of trouble, like tonight, keep runners from crossing home plate and make big pitches when I need to. But as far as pitching well, I think I've done that pretty much my whole career."
The Yankees would agree.
"He just cuts it, he sinks it, he throws his curveball," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "He lives on the corners; he just did what he always does. He locates and he pitched extremely well tonight, he really did."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Demoting De La Rosa tough decision for Red Sox
NEW YORK -- In a textbook example of a roster move that had nothing to do with performance, Red Sox righty Rubby De La Rosa was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, despite his dazzling work (2-2, 2.51 ERA) over five starts.
With Clay Buchholz back in the rotation and no other spots open, the Red Sox needed to create a roster spot for Mookie Betts, the highly touted prospect who arrived on Saturday.
The only way De La Rosa could have stayed is if the Red Sox could have moved one of their starters in a trade.
Manager John Farrell didn't enjoy having to tell De La Rosa he was going back down.
"Well, that isn't an easy conversation," Farrell said. "I will say this -- to Rubby's credit, he looks upon himself as a pitcher and one that needs to go out and pitch, and whether that was here or Pawtucket, he is ready to go. He did everything in his power to impact the decision, and I think the additional days being at the Major League level were a reflection of that, trying to find a fit for him."
De La Rosa, who took the news like a pro, will likely pitch for Pawtucket on Tuesday.
It's easy to envision he will return to the Red Sox in the near future.
"It was positive for me," De La Rosa said. "It's fine. I have no choice. It's hard for them, too. But at some point, I'm coming back. No, no, not disappointed. That's part of the game."
The good news for the Red Sox is they are now fairly certain De La Rosa is a starter they can count on.
"Really impressed," said general manager Ben Cherington. "You see the ability to use the fastball, the ability to use a couple different kinds of changeups, get his breaking ball in the mix, his confidence. He clearly looks like a Major League starter, which made today's conversation really hard. We're all confident he'll be back here sooner rather than later, but this is the move we made today to have a position player. He took it very well and really professionally. He's confident he'll go down and do what he has to do. He's a guy we're going to count on a lot."
Cherington to keep open mind as Deadline nears
NEW YORK -- Though the Red Sox entered Saturday night's contest with a 7 1/2-game deficit in the American League East, general manager Ben Cherington wasn't ready to concede that his team will go into a seller's mode by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Focused on 2014," said Cherington. "We're trying to look realistically and be honest with where we are -- I'm not sugarcoating where we are. It's not where we want to be. We've created a deficit for ourselves. But we still think the deficit is one we can overcome. We still believe in the talent. We believe we can be a good team this year.
"So that's what we're interested in doing, is trying to be as good a team as we can. If at some point, the picture changes, then it changes. Then we'll have to adjust at that point. But we're not at that point yet."
There is no perfect formula. Cherington will continue to evaluate the team on a daily basis before finalizing a strategy for trade season.
"It's a combination of where you are, how many games you have left to play, what talent we have, what talent we think is potentially attainable -- throw it all in a pot, mix it up and try to make the best decision," Cherington said. "If at some point, one of those factors changes or multiple factors change and the whole thing looks different, we'll react to that. Right now we're focused on just trying to get better.
"I think we'd be allowed to do whatever we think is in the best interest of the Red Sox. I understand we can put potential moves into one bucket or the other. We can put moves into the seller bucket or the buyer bucket, and I get it. But I'm not sure every move falls neatly into either of those buckets.
"We're going to try to make the organization better and the team better. We think we can do it this year. We'll see if we can. If that picture changes again, we'll have to adjust. I think everyone here knows roughly what we need to get better, and that's tomorrow and maybe three weeks from now and maybe a year from now. We're going to look to get better in those areas."
Cherington expects Victorino back this season
NEW YORK -- Health setbacks for Shane Victorino have been so frequent this season that it's fair to wonder what he can give for the remainder of 2014.
However, general manager Ben Cherington said the club still expects Victorino can get back on the field at some point.
Victorino has played just 21 games this season, and he was most recently shut down from his Minor League rehab assignment with lower back tightness.
"We still believe he's going to play and help us, but obviously there was a setback this week," said Cherington. "It's harder to say when that will be, but based on the diagnosis and the information we've gotten from our staff, he's going to come back and play. It's just, we don't know when exactly. It's a little bit harder to say than it would have been five or six days ago."
For now, Victorino will continue to be monitored by the medical staff before it becomes clear when he can get back on the field.
"He had an injection," Cherington said. "That's got to play its course and get the area calmed down, then we'll ramp up baseball activity again. It will be a few days at least until he's back into baseball activity, and then we'll go from there."