Red Sox and Jon Lester still have mutual interest in an extension

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Jon Lester said last month that he would be willing to take a discount in order to stay with the Red Sox for the long-term. While he’s currently due to hit free agency after the season, he recently told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman that he’s still hoping to work out an extension with Boston.

“I don’t like change,” Lester said in an interview with CBSSports.com about a week ago. “I like being where I’ve been. I like the people. I like the surroundings. It feels like home.”

While Lester would like to get a deal done before Opening Day, he won’t put a deadline on talks. As for the Red Sox, they spoke in more general terms, but it’s clear they’d like to keep him if the price is right.

“We appreciate him saying he wants to be a Red Sox. We’re crazy about him,” Werner said, speaking while standing next to Henry.

“We’d all love him to stay and hope he’s pitching for the Red Sox past this year,” Werner continued. “He’s been such a valuable player for us. It would be a great deal for the organization if we can figure out an extension.”

We could see some movement soon, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported yesterday that Lester’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, arrived in Red Sox camp.

After a career-worst 4.82 ERA in 2012, Lester bounced back last season by posting a 3.75 ERA in 33 regular season starts and a 1.75 ERA in five postseason starts. He’ll turn 31 years old next January, so a five-year extension in the range of $100 million is a possible benchmark.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.