ARLINGTON -- For Bobby Valentine, Monday night represented the first chance for him to manage a game in Arlington since the Rangers dismissed him during the 1992 season. Then there was rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who had a chance to play professionally for the first time in his native state.

"I'd like it a lot better if they didn't have such a good team," Valentine said of managing in Texas for the first time in 20 years.

The last time Valentine managed here, the Rangers played at Arlington Stadium. The Ballpark in Arlington opened in 1994.

Valentine much prefers the new stadium. His memories of the old place?

"Jumping as the rats came by," Valentine said. "It had a lot of nice features. I remember a lot of the aromas of the park. One time they had a cricket thing. Do you guys remember the cricket thing? The cricket invasion?

"They had a cricket thing where, we had these big walls in the parking lot. Big white walls. Six, eight feet high. They were all black. There was this cricket game where they were throwing balls in between the crickets. There were so many millions of crickets."

Middlebrooks played at the Ballpark as a high school player.

"I remember how hot it was," Middlebrooks said. "It was in July before my senior year of high school. I don't remember much. It was an All-Star game or something. I'm excited to play here. It's a fun place. I remember watching Juan Gonzalez, Pudge Rodriguez, Rusty Greer, and [Alex Rodriguez] was here for a little bit."

Middlebrooks grew up in Texarcana, which is about two hours from Arlington. But he now lives in the Greater Dallas area during the offseason.

Valentine also still has some roots in Texas, where he got his start in Major League managing.

"My son lives here. I've got friends that I've been talking to all day long," Valentine said. "Tom Grieve is still here. [Public relations vice president] John Blake's still here. It's great for me personally coming back here, but it doesn't have anything to do with the game, that's for sure."

Bobby V believes in Lester, to keep him on turn

ARLINGTON -- One day after Jon Lester suffered through the worst start of his career, manager Bobby Valentine met with the struggling lefty and decided to keep him right on turn in the rotation.

Lester will make his next start on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Before that, Lester will try to regain his form during a side session on Wednesday that might even include throwing to some hitters.

The Red Sox already have hitters lined up to face rehabbing closer Andrew Bailey that day.

"We've got a nice proactive plan," Valentine said. "He's going to throw Wednesday -- maybe throw to a couple of hitters, get a little feel for a couple of his pitches. He says he feels great. He's throwing the ball as well as he's thrown the ball in a couple of years. We've just got to get him to a point where his good stuff is getting hitters out. He says he's ready to do that."

Whenever a pitcher like Lester struggles, there is speculation about injuries. The Red Sox continue to say the lefty is healthy.

"No, he's not hurt, that's for sure," said Valentine. "He says he feels fine."

With the Red Sox having an off-day on Thursday, they would have been able to start Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront and Clay Buchholz for the series in New York and give Lester more time to regroup.

But the Red Sox decided to keep him going, just like they did with Buchholz when he was in a similar slump earlier in the season. Buchholz recovered nicely. Now the hope is that Lester will do the same.

The one thing Valentine seemed most concerned with was doing everything he could to help Lester stay confident.

"Well, just let him know that if you're that far down, there's only one way to go and that's up," Valentine said. "I believe in him. Nobody [in the media] does, but I do. So that's a good start."

Dice-K, Big Papi making progess with injuries

ARLINGTON -- A day hasn't gone by this season when Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine hasn't spent part of his pregame media session giving injury updates.

So how is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who hasn't pitched since July 2 because of a neck injury?

"Daisuke threw long [toss] today," said Valentine. "He has a [bullpen session] on Wednesday. He's feeling better."

If all goes well on Wednesday for Matsuzaka, the Red Sox will map out a rehab program for him.

Reliever Scott Atchison (right forearm tightness) could throw a bullpen session by Wednesday, though Valentine now doubts the righty will be able to pitch in a Minor League game by Friday, which was the original plan.

As for David Ortiz, he stayed back in Boston to rehab his right Achilles strain. Ortiz could join the Red Sox in New York this weekend, though he isn't eligible to be activated until Aug. 1.

Will he be ready by Aug. 1?

"You know, we'll let Mother Nature decide," Valentine said. "He was feeling pretty good and his wife wants him out of the house earlier than he's been leaving, so that's always a positive."