BOSTON -- Jon Lester wasn't deaf to the trade rumors when they cropped up, and manager John Farrell quickly got the left-hander's ear.
Certainly it helped, Farrell said, that he had a prior relationship with Lester from their time together here when Farrell was pitching coach.
"You take the temperature of their reaction, of what could initially be there," Farrell said Saturday at Fenway Park of his conversation with Lester. "And I know Jon, in his own words, wants to prove a number of people wrong. I said, 'Before we go that far, look at it as a positive that you're a good player.' Teams inquire about good players all the time. You can't change the opinions of others by what you do right now. You can by performing to your capabilities and that's what our focus has to be. He's a Red Sox.
"And I think any time that first rumor gets out there, it can be a little startling for guys. But I know one thing, he's extremely motivated, he's working his tail off right now to have a strong year."
Neither Farrell nor general manager Ben Cherington would say on Saturday that the possibility of trading Lester, Clay Buchholz or any other Red Sox starting pitcher has been ruled out. While a scenario where that occurs may not be probable, the Red Sox are willing to listen after a highly disappointing 2012. As Farrell put it, "Anything is a possibility," and Cherington echoed those words.
"Anything is possible, but certainly it's harder to [add to the rotation if you] subtract somebody from the rotation," Cherington said. "We have a number of players that teams like. We're in a perhaps different situation than we have been in the past coming off the year we did. Maybe in light of that, teams not surprisingly are inquiring about things that maybe they wouldn't have in the past. Look, we have to be open-minded; we lost 93 games. But our primary focus is to build the best team we can for 2013 and one that doesn't in any way get in the way of a great team for a long time. That's our focus, and that will guide us for the next several weeks. But you've got to be open-minded when you have a year like this, and we're trying to build a team that will sustain a level of success over a long period of time."
The Sox have in-house options to fill out the rotation -- or to at least provide depth.
Lefty Franklin Morales will come into Spring Training to be stretched out as a starter, Farrell said. It's a lot easier to make the conversion to the bullpen late in spring than it is the other way around, Farrell noted.
Right-hander Alfredo Aceves' role isn't set in stone, and he butted heads with former Sox manager Bobby Valentine. Farrell indicated he's looking at the versatile Aceves -- an emotional but valuable pitcher -- as a reliever.
Farrell's mostly been playing phone tag with Aceves thus far.
"We've had some brief conversations, a number of messages left. Colorful," Farrell said of Aceves. "He's a talented pitcher, and he can do some things in the game that he may be the only guy that can do it. With the frequency in which he can pitch to the number of pitches thrown, he's a talented guy. I think from my standpoint, the approach taken is to be candid with him, to be consistent with him, both in terms of how we want, what we value in guys' approach.
"I think the most important thing is for him to understand where he sits with us, how we view him and what his role is. And then he can best prepare for that."
As for the closer's job, Andrew Bailey was also at Fenway Park on Saturday, and he said he's entering Spring Training with the belief the gig is his.
"I think I have to," Bailey said. "Right now, I'd think I'm the only guy in that role. I feel, like I said, they traded for me for a reason. Last year was very frustrating on a lot of accounts and even when I was healthy, I didn't do my job to my fullest expectations or the organization's expectations. I'm taking that into my offseason workout, and knowing that I got to hammer down games for this organization and this team and we got to get to the playoffs."