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Red Sox pull Lester from Wednesday start amid trade rumors
Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester walks out of the batting cage prior to a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
Lester was scratched from his scheduled start in the series finale against the Blue Jays, manager John Farrell announced after the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to Toronto on Tuesday night at Fenway Park. The ace left-hander is the subject of trade rumors that intensified over the past few days, and the Red Sox's decision to skip his start likely is a signal that a deal is getting closer.
"In light of all the uncertainty surrounding Jon Lester, it's probably in everyone's best interests that he does not make that start," said Farrell, who added that right-hander Brandon Workman would be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Lester's place. "There will be a corresponding move, roster-wise, at some point (Wednesday)."
The non-waiver trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET Thursday.
If the Red Sox trade Lester, that would open a spot for Workman. If a deal isn't completed, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa could be optioned to Pawtucket. De La Rosa allowed three runs in six innings Tuesday night, taking the loss to fall to 3-4 with a 3.64 ERA.
Lester left Fenway Park before the media was granted access to the clubhouse. When he returns, it is unclear whether it will be only to pack his bags.
"It's tough," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said of the speculation surrounding Lester, with whom he has played since 2004 at Class A Sarasota and throughout the entirety of their major league careers. "We're not teammates; we're family. I hope in a couple days he's here because he means a lot to me and everyone else in what he's done here. I hope we open the door and he's in here."
A year ago, the Red Sox signed Pedroia to an eight-year, $110 million contract extension that represented a team-friendly deal based on the average annual salary. It was presumed the team would reach a long-term agreement with Lester, but after the Red Sox made a lowball offer in spring training, negotiations haven't continued. Last week, owner John Henry told the Boston Herald that the Sox agreed to respect Lester's wishes by not resuming contract talks until after the season, a decision that signaled they would put him on the trade market.
Asked if he was surprised Lester wasn't afforded a similar long-term deal, Pedroia didn't offer an opinion.
"I don't make those moves, man," he said. "I'm just here to support Jon. As a teammate, every time he takes the ball, we've got a great chance of winning. I don't think about the other stuff. You can't control that. If we had a big game to play, we'd want him pitching it. I've seen it every start. I mean, it would be tough to see him in another uniform."