BOSTON (CBS) –Red Sox ace Jon Lester is ready to make his second straight opening day start on Thursday when Boston opens their 2012 season against the Detroit Tigers.
“I’m really excited to get it going. It’s been a long spring; it always is,” Lester said from Detroit. “The last couple weeks always get tedious and repetitive. It’s just nice to be in a different place and getting into a big stadium like this and getting the season going.”
The Red Sox will try to get off to a fast start this season, after a 2-10 start put them in a deep hole last year. Add in some more pressure from their historic September collapse, and a good start to 2012 is a must for this Red Sox team.
“I think any year it’s important to get off to fast start, not only individually but as a team. Obviously with all the stuff that went on last year, there is a little added pressure, but I don’t think it’s anything anyone in that clubhouse can’t handle.”
While there is a new man in charge in manager Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington is now calling shots as the general manager, Lester does not see too much turnaround from last year’s team, which is a good thing in his eyes.
“Love it,” he said of this year’s team. “Very similar to last year. Up until September 1st, we were the best team in baseball, so I’ll take my chances.”
Lester finished last season 15-9 with a 3.47 ERA, but fell apart in September like the rest of his team. He was just 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in the season’s final month, with the team winning just one of his final six starts. Normally known for slow starts to the season, Lester went 3-1 in April, and hopes to better that effort this season. He felt sharp his last few spring outings, and is ready to bring that to the regular season.
“Mechanically started to feel a lot better being able to repeat and get the ball down; just executing pitches,” the lefty said. “It’s tough when you’re throwing the ball all over the place and not repeating your mechanics to really execute pitches and try to get hitters out. I was able to do that the last few outings.”
But now Lester will have to face a Tigers lineup that features one of baseball’s best one-two punches in the heart of the order with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. While Lester knows there isn’t much he can do to contain their big bats, there is a way to limit the damage they can do.
Read: 2012 Red Sox Predictions
“I think the biggest thing is to try to limit the base runners that get on before them. Try to let them beat you by themselves, not with 2-3 guys on. If you can just limit the base runners in front of them, a solo home run –hopefully- isn’t going to beat you.”
Thursday will be Lester’s second career opening day start. Last season, he allowed six hits and five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings of work in Boston’s 9-5 loss to the Rangers.