Lester Gets the Call for Sox’ Season Opener
Fort Myers, Fla. — Jon Lester has been picked to start on opening day for the Boston Red Sox.
Boston manager John Farrell announced Thursday that Lester will pitch Monday in Baltimore against the Orioles. The news came as no surprise, but Farrell had waited to make an announcement.
It will be Lester’s fourth consecutive opening day start, the fifth-longest streak in team history behind Pedro Martinez (seven), Roger Clemens (seven), Dennis Eckersley (five) and Cy Young (five).
Lester went 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 33 starts and 2131⁄3 innings last year, helping the Red Sox to their third World Series championship in 10 years. The 30-year-old left-hander is 100-56 with a 3.76 ERA in eight seasons with Boston.
S. Williams Rules Sharapova Again
Key Biscayne, Fla. — Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova for the 15th consecutive time Thursday, rallying in both sets to win 6-4, 6-3 in the Sony Open semifinals.
Williams, seeking a record seventh Key Biscayne title, improved to 16-2 against Sharapova and hasn’t lost to her favorite foil since 2004.
Williams earned her 14th consecutive victory against a top-10 player. Her opponent in Saturday’s final will be the winner of the semifinal Thursday night between reigning Australian Open champion Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova.
Rafael Nadal advanced to the semifinals by rallying past Milos Raonic 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
The No. 1-ranked Nadal, who is 0-3 in Key Biscayne finals, needs one more win to get there again. His opponent tonight will be No. 7-seeded Tomas Berdych, who advanced by beating No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Nadal has beaten Berdych 16 times in a row over the past seven years.
San Antonio — Long after the fog cleared at TPC San Antonio, Phil Mickelson remained shrouded in an increasingly alarming funk with the Masters two weeks away.
Mickelson shot a 5-over 77 on Thursday in the Texas Open to fall nine strokes back during the suspended first round. The 77 was Lefty’s highest score since a 78 in August in the PGA Championship.
In his previous two starts, Mickelson missed the cut in the Honda Classic and tied for 16th three weeks ago at Doral in the Cadillac Championship. He made his only other Texas Open appearance in 1992, so long ago that the event was only his 11th professional start on the PGA Tour.
Pat Perez and Danny Lee shot 4-under 68 to share the clubhouse lead and Andrew Loupe was 4 under with seven holes to play when darkness forced the suspension of play. The start was delayed 2 hours, 40 minutes because of fog, and 45 players were unable to finish the round.
Dolphins Add RB
Miami — Running back Knowshon Moreno agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Miami Dolphins, whose running game ranked 26th in the NFL last season.
Moreno, a five-year veteran, had his best season in 2013 when he rushed for 1,038 yards, caught 60 passes and scored 13 touchdowns playing with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Ravens Star Indicted
Atlantic City, n.j. — Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted on a charge he assaulted his fiancee in an elevator at casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
Rice had been charged with simple assault after police said he knocked out Janay Palmer on Feb. 15 at the Revel Casino. But a grand jury indicted him Thursday on a more serious count of aggravated assault. It carries a three-to-five-year sentence.
Palmer also had been charged with simple assault. Prosecutors say that complaint was dismissed.
The couple lives in the Baltimore suburb of Reistertown.
Palmer’s attorney has said he’s certain no crime was committed. Rice’s attorney, Michael Diamondstein, said Rice denies the charge and that the couple are happy and in counseling.
Eagles Add Ex-Jets QB
Philadelphia — Mark Sanchez passed his physical on Thursday and the former New York Jets quarterback will sign a contract with the Eagles on Friday, a source close to the situation said.
Sanchez and the Eagles have agreed to terms, according to various reports, but the length and value of the contract was not known.
The 27-year-old Sanchez, who spent his first five seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets, arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
He missed all of last season with a torn labrum and also had knee surgery in 2010 to repair a patella ligament.
Sanchez was released by the Jets last Friday, a few hours before they signed former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to a one-year contract.
Syracuse Freshman Draft-Bound
Syracuse, n.y. — Syracuse freshman point guard Tyler Ennis is entering the NBA draft. Ennis made the announcement Thursday in an email from the university.
Ennis finished second on the Orange in scoring at 12.9 points per game and averaged 5.5 assists to go with 1.7 turnovers, one of the top assist-to-turnover marks in the nation.