Lester ready to go again; Anxious for circus to end.


Byline: Janie McCauley

OAKLAND, Calif. - Jon Lester is seriously craving some normalcy, and he can see it on the horizon. At least, he hopes so.

Lester had a hard time figuring out what all the fuss was about yesterday when everybody wanted a piece of his time, one day before he was to make his next start - six days after he threw the first no-hitter in the majors this year, and nearly two years after he was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"There aren't too many starts when you have to talk to the media the day before you pitch again, but it really hasn't been any different for me - preparing the same, the same workouts, with the exception of all the media attention," the Boston Red Sox left-hander said a day before he will face the Athletics in the series finale.

"I really can't wait, like I said I want all the media attention to die down and go back to normal and not have to worry about all this. I'm excited and feeling good. The bullpen went well. Hopefully keep going. Same everyday stuff."

He will be under careful watch, considering he threw 130 pitches in the Red Sox' 7-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday.

Lester insists he's good to go despite the hard work his arm went through Monday.

"We train all offseason, all spring training to build up the pitch count," he said. "And when you're called upon to go longer in the game and throw a lot of pitches, physically you're able to do it. That's what we try to do. I don't feel any effects from it any more than if I threw 50 pitches. I feel the same.

"I knew I had a lot. It's hard to miss that big scoreboard out there and how many pitches are up there. You train between each start to do that."

Can he possibly pull off another one, getting back-to-back no-nos just as Johnny Vander Meer did for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938? Vander Meer no-hit the Boston Bees on June 11 that year and then the Brooklyn Dodgers four days later. He is the only pitcher in major league history to do it.

"To know him is something I'm very proud of," injured Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said of his teammate. "To see what he went through after the illness, I'm proud of him. He has every bit the desire and determination Josh (Beckett) does. He doesn't want to be a big league pitcher, he wants to be the ace of a staff. ... He's still a baby. He's still a kid."

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