If traded, Lester open to returning to Red Sox

If traded, Lester open to returning to Red Sox

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.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.