7/26/2014 12:08 A.M. ET
If traded, Lester open to returning to Red Sox
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Red Sox starter Jon Lester is fully aware of the possibilities that exist as the days tick down to Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
With his contract situation unresolved and tabled until the winter, there's at least a chance he could be traded.
But Lester made it clear following Boston's 6-4 loss to the Rays on Friday that he would not take it personally if the Red Sox took that path. In fact, he indicated that even if that did take place, he could perhaps re-sign with Boston as a free agent in the offseason.
"If that's where they want to go with it, that's fine," said Lester. "No hard feelings. Hopefully come November I'll be right here and won't have to worry about it."
Lester has been candid all along that his heart is in Boston, and he wants to finish his career with the Red Sox.
And he was clear on Friday night that a trade to a contender wouldn't diminish his desire to return to the Red Sox in 2015 and beyond.
"Yeah, why not?" Lester said. "I mean, this is what I know, this is what I love. Like I've said plenty of times, this is where I want to be. And if they trade me I completely understand. No hard feelings. I know what they have to do for their organization, and if that involves me, so be it. If it doesn't I'll keep running out there every five days and pitching. And hopefully in November we get something done."
With the Red Sox in danger of falling out of contention, would Lester be intrigued by being able to join a contender for the stretch run?
"I'd take the ball every five days, whether it's here or somewhere else," Lester said. "Obviously I'd like to be here, like I said. If I'm here I'm going to continue to grind it out every five days and try to give these guys the best chance to win every ballgame that I'm involved in, and that's all I can control."
Lester took a no-decision on Friday. In 21 starts, he is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA.
Ortiz feeling better, in lineup vs. Price
ST. PETERSBURG -- David Ortiz wasn't going to let a nagging back injury keep him out of Friday's matchup with David Price and the Rays.
Though the slugger exited Thursday afternoon's game in Toronto after feeling some spasms in his final at-bat, Ortiz felt he was good to go.
"He called me once we got to the hotel and said, 'Make sure you don't count me out for tomorrow quite yet,' knowing he'd come here today and get some work done. And here we are," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
When Price last faced Ortiz on May 30 at Fenway Park, he drilled him in the back.
There was believed to be some carryover animosity from last year's American League Division Series, when Ortiz hit two homers against Price and the lefty felt Ortiz stared too long at the second long ball before running around the bases.
After being hit by Price a couple of months ago, Ortiz ripped him to the media, saying he no longer had any respect for him.
The Red Sox weren't concerned with the subplots. They were just glad Ortiz's back had improved enough for him to play.
"It seemed to be because he didn't experience any increased symptoms on the plane ride or any further stiffness," said Farrell. "I think the check swing he just kind of caught himself a little bit."
Ortiz went 1-for-4 with an RBI single off Price in a 6-4 Red Sox loss.
• With a lefty starting for the Rays on Friday, Stephen Drew was out of the lineup and Brock Holt played shortstop.
"I think he's been better defensively [than we thought] at every position, the seven he's started at," said Farrell. "I think the comparison at shortstop to Spring Training is going to be that there are more games played, even while he was at [Triple-A] Pawtucket. Through repetition he's gaining comfort at the position as well."
• Playing an entire week on turf isn't quite the way the Red Sox would have drawn it up for Shane Victorino's return from the disabled list, but he has passed every test so far. Victorino was in the lineup on Friday. Will he be back in there Saturday?
"We'll look at tomorrow and see where we are," Farrell said. "It's a unique scheduling thing where we've got seven consecutive on Astroturf and we'll monitor it."