Q. What is it about Joe that's made you guys buy in to what he says?
JON LESTER: I think the biggest thing is he doesn't force anything down our throats. He's got his careers, methods and ideas as far as going about each individual game. If we have any questions his door is always open and he gives us truthful, thoughtful answers. You know, in this game we have a lot of guys that feel like they don't want to be truthful, you know, for whatever reason. And Joe is not that way. I think the players see that, management sees that, and it makes it easier to buy into. You know, the other thing is he backs up what he says. Biggest thing for me is he just lets us play. He lets us be us and you doesn't run into a lot of problems when you just let guys be themselves.
Q. John Lackey described your friendship earlier talking about how you guys are going to be boys and friends well after the series is all done. Can you talk a little bit about the friendship, what you guys have in common but also I know you've gotta go against the whole team, not just him, but the fact that you guys are taking the hill in a game of this magnitude?
JON LESTER: I mean it's awesome. It's not too often you get to be in a situation like this to go against one of your better friends. You know, obviously I know Lack, played with him for a while, played against him for a while. We've done this before, before I got to play with him in Boston. He's just such a good competitor, you know. He's going to almost outwill you sometimes, if that makes sense. I learned a lot from him in Boston. You know, like you said, our friendship will go beyond this game, it will go beyond our careers, and it's something that means a lot to me. But you know, come tomorrow, we're not buddies anymore. We gotta go to battle and try to beat one another. So he's already one up on me this year, so hopefully I can get back to even tomorrow with him. But it'll just be a fun game. It just adds a little bit more to the excitement, and obviously on a personal level. So it'll be fun.
Q. What was your thought when you saw that you were going to face John Lackey here in St. Louis?
JON LESTER: I kind of laughed actually. I didn't think -- I honestly didn't think he was pitching Game 1. I figured Wacha was. But it's kind of just a testament to what the Cardinals believe in him as far as his mentality and how he goes about his work. He's had a great year, you know, so I thought it was funny. I mean it's kind of fitting, so like I said, it'll be fun. Add a little bit more to it, but at the end of the day, you know, I can't worry about who's going against me on the other side.
Q. Jon, can you talk about how your National League career has evolved this year and your comfort level? It seems like for the second half there you just pitched. Is that my thoughts or is that how you look at it?
JON LESTER: I would agree with that. I think early on I was kind of behind the eight ball, you know. Once you look back on things and see where your stuff was and where you were mechanically and all those things, I think you can be a little more truthful, a little more honest with people as far as how you felt. At the time I felt great. I felt fine, just went through a little rough patch or whatever. But I was definitely as far as arm strength behind the eight ball a little bit. But with that being said, just kept grinding away. I mean that's what I do. I don't do anything flashy. I don't have electric stuff. I don't have 97 in the tank. I don't have this unbelievable repertoire, I just try to go about it as best I can, like a blue-collar mentality.
I put my work in, and at the end of the year, that's what I always kind of say, my one goal is 200 innings and at the end of the year you look up and I've been pretty consistent through my career. I try not to look at one particular month or one particular outing as end all end all. Just keep grinding away, but I would agree with what you said. Second half. I've always been a better second half pitcher than I am the first half. Got a little on a roll and had a couple of battles in there, but that happens, and I finished up strong, which is good.
Q. Jon, last night in the midst of the champagne spraying you said you were worried about getting this workout today. How did you feel and what did you see from your team in terms of bouncing back emotionally from being on such a high?
JON LESTER: Emotionally is not a problem with this team. This team is fully invested. We have a lot of fun. Obviously I heard Joe talk about that a little bit with this group. We talk a little bit about David Ross and what he brings to this ball club. You know, he walks into a room and it lights up immediately. I don't think guys had any problem. I think the biggest thing was just kind of getting up this morning or this afternoon, getting in at 3:30 or 4, whenever we got in. But everybody is ready to go. We're ready for the new chapter, and we're ready to have a five-game series as opposed to just a one, you know, and go about this and see where it takes us.
Q. Jon, you have a great reputation for this month. You mentioned the second half, and Ross even said it that it's a progression for you. That's just how you are. I mean are you peaking a lot of the time this time of year where if the playoffs were in July you wouldn't be? Is it really a five- or six-run progression for you?
JON LESTER: I have no idea. I kind of have always said if I knew how to start better, I would. Trust me, I don't like sucking at all. You know, April was tough on me, especially coming here and all the expectations, and you know, not only personally but as a team. And you know, to go out there and do what I did, I wasn't obviously too proud of that. So if I knew how to get off on a better start, it would happen more frequently. But with that being said, just over the years I've been around a lot of guys that, the Schills, the Becketts, the Blacks. I've heard them all say numerous times that they don't really feel good with their mechanics and stuff until they reach about 100 innings. For whatever reason that is, I mean I guess that's kind of how I feel. I don't know if it's just because we're bigger-bodied guys or just a feel or we pitch better when we're a little bit tired. I don't know. Like I said, if I knew the answer to that any one would go a lot better and I wouldn't have to wait around that long. But just the way I'm built, I guess. Just the way I've always kind of gone about my career you had grown up in the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. When you signed here you would have to take down the Cardinals, you would have to go through St. Louis if you're going to win the World Series here.
JON LESTER: Yeah. Obviously that was what everybody talked about. You know, coming here, I kind of understand how guys felt now when they would come to the Red Sox and they're thrown into that whole thing and they're trying to answer questions about it. It's a hard thing to answer, you know, and I've been through one season with it. And yeah, it's there, but you know, I never had the -- I was never fortunate enough to play in a Yankees/Red Sox postseason. So this is kind of my -- I guess my time to figure it out, to see what it's all about. You know, obviously coming here with the Red Sox in '13 and playing these guys is a little bit different than coming in as a division rival, so it's going to be fun.
I mean obviously the fans are going to be pumped up. Chicago is pumped up. And I'm learning. You know, this will be a good learning experience, and to be a part of this, and it's an honor to be a part of it. This has been going on for a long time. Same thing with the other side. So it's a hard question to answer because I've never gone through it. So maybe at the end of this series hopefully we're doing that celebration thing again and we can talk about it a little bit more and I'll give you a better answer, but right now I'm still on the fly with all of this.
Q. You've talked more than once about you came over here to win, the big pitch they made and you were the big off-season guy. How much more than any other starts you've had this year do you feel like this is kind of why they brought you here, that this is sort of a defining start for you as a Cub?
JON LESTER: None. I think it was just another start. I mean you get too amped up for things, it's just -- it's just how I work. I can't look at April 15th any differently than tomorrow. You know what I mean? It's just -- you gotta prepare the same -- that's why I'm so routine oriented. I have to have my routine. I have to do the things, the five days in between. I prepare the same for every start. Obviously tomorrow when you go out there, there's going to be a little more adrenaline and there's a little bit more on the line, but at the end of it you can look at that and see where you're at. But I can't worry about today, about the possibility of tomorrow, defining my short stint here with the Cubs. You know what I mean.
Q. I just meant, you know, this is what they envisioned when they brought you in.
JON LESTER: Well, yeah. I get what you're asking, but I think you gotta look at the bigger body of work than just one game. You know. I would like to think that, you know, the guys in that clubhouse look at me more so than the greater body of work than just the outcome of tomorrow. You know. With that being said, you know, I agree with what you -- you know, I wanted to come here to win. I wanted to come here and be a part of this and hopefully bring a World Series Championship here. But I can't look at tomorrow being that defining game. I gotta take it as a normal start against the Cardinals and prepare the same and go out there and, you know, like I've always said, I'll give you everything I got. And hopefully at the end of the day it's better than the other guy.
Q. You're a guy who pitched inside before you came to Chicago. Lackey has been a guy who's pitched inside his whole career. With the last season getting a little more heated with some of the post-team comments. Is there a carryover. Do you see a sensitivity if you happen to bump somebody up there?
JON LESTER: I don't see it as a problem. I would hope it's not a problem. Like you said, I'm going to pitch my game. I know Lack's going to pitch his game. I know whoever pitches tomorrow for them, whoever pitches tomorrow for us -- or the next day is going to do the same thing. So I don't think we can really worry about what happened in the regular season. This is a different time. You can't allow -- you can't allow bad blood to boil over here and allow free base runners, you know. The playoffs are too important to give guys free bases. You gotta make them earn it. Now, with that being said, like you just said I pitch inside. I throw a cutter to a lot of these righties, and I mean I've yanked a few before in my career. It happens, but it's not the intent by any means. I would hope not. I would hope we could go out and just play a good clean five games and see who comes out on top at the end.