"You find yourself trying to match his rhythm and tempo and all that. It's one of those deals, he's special because of that," Lester said of his opponent.
A few hours later in Glendale, Ariz., two Windy City foes will meet when the Chicago White Sox host the Cubs at 4:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. White Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom is expected to make his Cactus League debut after a left oblique strain sidelined him for most of the spring. If healthy, the 34-year-old righty is candidate for the club's closer job. For the Cubs, southpaw Chris Rusin will continue his fight for the fifth rotation spot, getting the start opposite John Danks. Rusin is 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA this spring, but allowed just one hit in four scoreless frames his last time out.
Cubs-Sox isn't the only rivalry matchup on tap for Friday. The Oakland Athletics travel to Scottsdale, Ariz., to meet the San Francisco Giants at 9:35 p.m. ET in a preview of the Bay Bridge Series on March 27-29. Right-hander Sonny Gray, who will draw his first Opening Day assignment, will start for Oakland in his penultimate Cactus League start.
Pittsburgh's Edinson Volquez will head to the mound Friday looking to prove he belongs as the club's No. 5 starter. The 30-year-old left-hander has an 11.00 ERA this spring and gets the start at 7:05 p.m. ET against the Yankees. New York will counter with CC Sabathia, who is coming off five no-hit innings against Miami in his last outing. Sabathia is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three Grapefruit starts.
New Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who returned from Mexico with his work visa, is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut against the Nationals at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. St. Louis skipper Mike Matheny has not confirmed whether the 23-year-old Diaz, who signed with the club earlier this month, will start or come off the bench. Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright will start opposite Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez.
The Tigers and Braves will send their Opening Day starters to the hill at Champion Stadium, as Justin Verlander and Julio Teheran duel at 1:05 p.m. ET. Verlander has allowed just two hits in 8 2/3 scoreless innings this spring. The Braves will also send Gus Schlosser and a split-squad team to Sarasota, Fla., to face the Orioles.
The Royals will also split up Friday, sending Opening Day starter James Shields to face the Reds, and Minor Leaguer Aaron Brooks to Tempe, Ariz., for a contest with the Angels. Both games are at 4:05 p.m. ET, and the Angles matchup will stream live on MLB.TV. C.J. Wilson, who has a 2.81 ERA through 16 Cactus League innings, will make his fifth Cactus League start for Los Angeles.
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco will get the call for the Twins on Friday against the Mets. Although many regulars are unlikely to make the five-hour round-trip to Fort Myers, Fla., New York will send Dillon Gee, currently penciled in as the Opening Day starter, to face the Twins in his second-to-last Grapefruit League outing.
Also among Friday's Grapefruit League action is Marlins-Astros at 1:05 p.m. ET, where Miami's projected No. 2 Nathan Eovaldi will face Houston's Opening Day starter Scott Feldman. Concluding MLB.TV's Friday slate are the Padres and Mariners, set to meet at 10:05 p.m. ET. Southpaw James Paxton, who is in line for a rotation spot with a 2.08 ERA this spring, will start for Seattle, opposite San Diego's Ian Kennedy.