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Lester says desire to stay hasn't wavered

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jon Lester doesn’t want to talk about finality -- not about his third career All-Star appearance, how long he could maintain his high level of play or if his Boston Red Sox career could be coming to a close.

Lester, 30, might not have all the answers right now, but with free agency looming at the end of the season, he knows those questions will get addressed soon.

“Talking about nostalgia, could be my last All-Star Game, I’m not worried about that right now,” Lester said. “I don’t like the unknown. It doesn’t sit well with me.”

Lester is in the middle of the best season of his nine-year career. Though he’s just 9-7, Lester boasts a 2.65 ERA -- the best of any Red Sox starter -- with 134 strikeouts in 129 innings.

Red Sox manager John Farrell, also serving as the American League manager in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, named Seattle’s Felix Hernandez the All-Star starter -- one of only nine pitchers in baseball with a better ERA than Lester’s.

Lester, who was drafted 57th overall by Boston in 2002, continues to express his desire to remain with the Red Sox throughout his career -- even if he hasn’t yet agreed to an extension that will make that possible.

“Everybody is hopeful on everything,” Lester said. “The right time will come when we sit down and talk about it, whether it’s tomorrow or four months from now.”

The Red Sox made Lester an offer in the ballpark of four years and $70 million during spring training, that Lester and his camp turned down; further discussions haven’t closed the gap enough to get a deal done, though the Sox could still make a run at it. Lester had been on record saying he’d take a hometown discount, but Monday he wouldn’t go as far as to say the team exploited his position.

“I don’t think 'exploited' is the right word; they took a shot. They put the collective offer out there, that’s where they wanted to start off,” Lester said. “We had plenty of talks after that as far as money, moving years, moving money, but never got to another offer. Like I said, Opening Day came and went, and we put it on the back burner.”

Discussions have been ongoing during the season as he and general manager Ben Cherington have had “four to six” talks throughout the past couple of months.

Lester’s main focus is on the 2014 season, but if he were to make it to free agency, there’s no doubt in his mind what team he'd like to hear from first.

“I don’t want this to be a distraction for the team. I don’t want Jackie Bradley Jr. to have to answer questions about my contract,” Lester said. “I hope Boston is the first team that calls me and they don’t have to worry about it.”