Red Sox ace Jon Lester has said over and over that he doesn't want to talk publicly about a potential contract extension. He just wants to focus on the task at hand, which is pitching well on his day.
So far this season, the possible free agent to-be has done that. Lester will take the mound again when the Red Sox and Orioles begin a three-game set with a Friday matinee on Independence Day.
Lester is having a career year, all while the Red Sox struggle to back up their pitching staff. The 30-year-old has posted a 2.92 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 3.97 K/BB ratio, all career bests.
"I think the one thing Jon Lester has done a great job at is keeping those situations private," Boston manager John Farrell said Wednesday. "He's put them off the side and has focused on his work and he's pitched outstanding. I think Jon Lester -- the way he's handled this -- is an example for everyone to see a guy going into his free-agent year handle it."
On Friday, Lester will oppose Miguel Gonzalez, who has not been sharp since returning from an oblique injury on June 17. In three starts, he's posted a 6.14 ERA and opponents are hitting .385/.459/.708 against him. Gonzalez has given up five home runs, as well, lasting no more than five innings in each of the three outings.
On the season, Gonzalez has posted a 4.56 ERA, 1.93 K/BB ratio and 1.56 WHIP --- all career worsts, although this is just his third year in the Majors.
"It's a little frustrating," Gonzalez said of his recent work after Sunday's start against the Rays. "It's frustrating to come back and not able to have that success. But it's a grind. The first half, we've got to keep working and hopefully finish strong."
Red Sox: Club not considering sending Bogaerts to Triple-A
Xander Bogaerts had a terrific May. He had a rough June, especially as the month progressed. But Farrell said the rookie third baseman will be with the team in July and beyond. Sending him to Triple-A Pawtucket hasn't been considered.
Bogaerts is 2-for-46 in his last 12 games, but the Red Sox insist they have faith in the 21-year-old.
"It might be a little bit more prevalent for a guy that's still creating a foundation here at the big league level where those swings of confidence might be a little bit wider," Farrell said. "But this is also somebody that we believe in and we continue to have him in the lineup and provide opportunities."
Bogaerts is batting .125/.163/.231 since June 1. Since June 15, he's hitting .075/.107/.075 with one run scored and one RBI. The infielder has been moved down in the lineup from No. 2 in the last week, as well.
Wednesday, Bogaerts went 0-for-4 with a walk. He struck out looking twice and left six runners on base.
Orioles: Norris could rejoin rotation early next week
With a storm moving above Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Thursday, the O's had to be creative to be sure Bud Norris' rehab stayed on track.
Norris was scheduled to take pitchers' fielding practice at 4:05 p.m. before an impending storm threatened that.
"We had to set up a gymnasium today in case it was raining," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He definitely needs to get this under his belt."
Baltimore expects that Norris will have either another bullpen session or a simulated game on Friday depending on how the PFP session went.
Norris, who hasn't played since straining his right groin on June 21, hasn't been ruled out for a return on Monday against the Nationals.
• Kevin Gausman threw two innings in an abbreviated start for Class A Short-Season Aberdeen Wednesday. The righty is a candidate to start for the O's against the Red Sox on Sunday. He has a 3.86 ERA in five starts for Baltimore this season.
• Outfielder Josh Hart will return to Class A Delmarva on Friday. Baltimore's first-round Draft pick in 2013, Hart was batting .266 with Delmarva before tearing the meniscus in his right knee and hitting the DL on May 28.
• With a double in the third inning Wednesday, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz became the 36th player in Major League history with 1,000 extra-base hits.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.