Red Sox Roundup: Friday, July 25

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester heads to the bull pen before a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Boston, Sunday, July 20, 2014.
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester heads to the bull pen before a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Boston, Sunday, July 20, 2014.

I’ve been tossing the idea around about doing a “Red Sox Roundup” type post where we discuss a few key headlines surrounding the team. I like the idea, but the name might be too unoriginal. Got any ideas? Shoot ‘em over to me on Twitter @rich_cooke and maybe I’ll steal it (with proper credit of course).

How much longer will Jon Lester be in a Red Sox uniform?

Despite the struggles of this team so far, Lester’s contract has been the one distraction sitting in the back of every fan’s mind. As the highs of winning streaks instill hope in the team and the lows of a losing streak elicit further disappointment, the dark and gloomy cloud that is the future of Jon Lester looms heavily over the franchise.

The saga took an interesting yet evermore frustrating turn on Thursday when Red Sox president Larry Lucchino confirmed to WEEI that the team and Lester we’re not going to talk any further about the contract until after the season.

Owner John Henry is on the same page, telling the Boston Herald that “both sides have to put further discussion off until after the season.” Henry continued to say “It’s clear that both Jon and our organization would like to see Jon back next year if possible.”

“…if possible.”

It’s very interesting timing for both the owner and president to make these statements at the same time, considering there has been no formal talk regarding the situation over the past few weeks. Most likely a case where behind-the-scenes discussions between the two sides are still getting nowhere, and the organization wants to avoid distraction. Understandable, considering the last thing the team needs is heightened tension surrounding a marquee player while attempting to make a playoff push.

Depending on when the “end of the season” is for the Red Sox, they have until 9 a.m. on the day following the last game of the World Series to have discussions with him. After that, he becomes a free agent. However, they have a “quiet period” where other teams can discuss their interest in Lester, but the Red Sox hold exclusive negotiating rights. Lester has seven days to accept whatever the team offers him. If he does not, he will become an unrestricted free agent.

Despite not wanting this situation to be a distraction, as the season ends, it will be a daily story. If Lester does end up becoming a free agent, he will undoubtedly be one of the most sought-after in baseball, and could command a huge contract elsewhere.

On This Day In History: 10 Years Ago:

OK, maybe not today, but yesterday. I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite pictures in team history. Better than Yaz waving the ball fair, better than Foulke flipping the ball to Mientkiewicz. Better than Torii Hunter head over heels over the right field wall with the security guard’s hands to the heavens.

Ah yes, Jason Varitek shoving his glove in A-Rod’s face. It’s priceless.

I think it’s safe to say this picture is an accurate representation of what all baseball fans wish they could do to A-Rod. When you have the most hated player in the game in the middle of a fight between the two most heated rivals in the game, at the height of the rivalry, you get the best picture in baseball.

Eat leather, Rodriguez.

Speaking of Rivalries:

Jon Lester takes the mound tonight to start a weekend series against the Rays. He’ll duel with David Price.

It’s the first time the teams have faced each other since May 30th. You’ll recall that’s when Price decided it’d be a good idea to plunk Big Papi with a 94 mph fastball. It was the second time he had done so, the first time coming in the first at-bat between the two this season.

Papi didn’t like it.

“It’s a war,” he said after the game. “It’s on. Next time I see [Price] he better put his gloves on. I have no respect for him anymore.”

“Next time” is tonight.

The day after the game Price didn’t exactly diffuse the situation, saying Papi views himself as bigger than the game.

Hopefully Price got some tips from Floyd Mayweather before tonight’s matchup.

However, don’t expect fireworks to fly tonight. At least not with Papi involved. He tweaked his back Wednesday night during a check swing.

“On my last at-bat I kind of felt a little pop or something in my upper back. I think it’s a spasm,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s nothing serious.”

The last time Papi faced Price he felt a pop in his upper back as well.

It’s not known whether he’ll be in the lineup or not tonight, but I’m sure manager John Farrell and the training staff will err on the side of caution and keep Ortiz out until he feels 100% healthy.

The Rays have won seven straight and are 2.5 games ahead of the last-place Red Sox who are coming off a three-game skid in Toronto. This is a pivotal series for the futures of Jon Lester and David Price. If the Sox gain some momentum here and see themselves able to make a playoff push, the chances that Jon Lester sticks around increase. For the Rays, trade rumors have surround Price all season long. If they get knocked out of contention with a Red Sox sweep, expect to see Price moved before the trade deadline.

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