Oct. 21: Jon Lester Pregame Interview

Q. What are days like this for you guys, like last night and today, when things are so up in the air and then your mindset to maybe you'll be pitching tomorrow, maybe you won't?

JON LESTER: I mean, we've kind of been like this for a little while with the Wild Card game and all that. It's a weird feeling. You don't know what to expect. It's just kind of, obviously, a big game for us tonight to continue to move on. But really we have to take the same mindset we've been trying to do all year and worry about tonight. If tomorrow comes, then I'll go out there and try to do my job. But we really just have to focus on tonight, and we've done a pretty good job of that throughout the year, and hopefully we can continue to do that, especially tonight.

Q. Are you prepared to pitch tonight, and have you been told you could pitch tonight?

JON LESTER: No and no. So I'm prepared to pitch tomorrow. I mean, I think it would have to be a pretty big emergency for me to get in the game tonight in some capacity. Like Joe said, we've got to win four. We don't have to win just one game to move on or whatever. We've got to win four.

So we've got to let Jason do his job tonight. Hopefully he does that, which I'm sure he will. Gives us a chance to win. And hopefully tomorrow or tonight, at the end of the day, we're talking about tomorrow. I'm not in the bullpen or anything that Joe has told me. I'll be in the dugout.

Q. When you started with the Red Sox, there were obviously guys still there who had gone through with the team in 2004 with the comeback. Did you ever hear them talk about that? Was there ever raised in different situations when you were with the Red Sox?
 

JON LESTER: Not really. I know throughout the years there were times where guys would ask questions to David or whoever was around still from that team, but not really. Guys, I think, kind of kept it pretty close to themselves as far as what went on in that clubhouse, which I understand. It was such a tight-knit group and such a special experience for those guys that I feel like a lot of them kept it pretty internal.

Schill talked about it a little bit, David talked about it a little bit, obviously Kevin talked about it some. But I don't think we really know what went on in that clubhouse and what was actually said. There are bits and pieces and kind of the cliché answers. But to really know what went on in that clubhouse, I think you had to be there and understand what that group did to get to that point.

Q. Respectful that they have been beating you this way, but do you have an appreciation for the young arms over on the Mets side and what they've done, as a veteran pitcher, from what you've seen?

JON LESTER: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously their stuff speaks for itself. It's pretty impressive to see what these guys have done. Obviously they're running another young guy out there tonight. I kind of go back to talking about our young guys and how just calm and prepared they are day-in and day-out, and it seems to be that same way for those guys over there. You don't really ever see their demeanor change.

They attack the strike zone. On the biggest stage they attack the strike zone, which is hard to do sometimes. But, yeah, it's been impressive to watch. Hopefully we can get a few off the guy tonight and maybe we can beat this one and move on to the next one and see what happens.

Q. David, for the most part, has started with you this year, and tonight he'll be starting with Jason and kind of with the season on the line. Can you talk about what having him out there will mean tonight with his experience and having been there before?

JON LESTER: Yeah, I mean, obviously what David brings kind of speaks for itself, not only on the field but in the dugout, in the clubhouse. Miggy's done a great job for us as well, they both have. Schwarb does the same thing. But David's leadership, David's kind of demeanor and the way he goes about things, he understands his role, which is important, especially as a back-up. You don't want a back-up that wants to be a starter. You've got to have a guy that understands what he's trying to do and understands his opportunities and what he has to do. But, yeah, he's done a great job for us all year.

But like I said, I think what means the most to these guys in this clubhouse is what he brings day-in and day-out, whether he's playing or not to this clubhouse and to these guys, and really teaching these young guys how to be pros and go about it day by day.

Q. Even in a regular season periodically you might face the same team twice within a week span. In the playoffs does that give you -- or is there an advantage whatsoever in doing that, which hopefully you will tomorrow?

JON LESTER: No, I don't really know. I think it can go either way. I think you can -- the hitters can maybe feel a little bit more comfortable. At the same time, you can maybe feel more comfortable with them. I know we don't play these guys a lot, so maybe that gives me the advantage of just seeing these guys. I'm a little bit more of a visual person, so I have to go off of how guys approach me in the batter's box and take swings off of what I'm trying to do. So maybe that helps me. I don't know.

You know, really what it comes down to is just trying to execute pitches, and if you do that more times than not, you're going to be hopefully successful at the end of the day. That definitely wasn't the case the other night, but I don't know. I don't know who it helps. Like I said, I think maybe you can settle in a little bit quicker. But at the same time, they can maybe settle in a little bit quicker. So maybe it's just a draw on both sides.

Q. You were young once and got the ball --

JON LESTER: Thanks.

Q. Yeah, and you got the ball to finish a series with everybody sort of leaning in and watching. Do you remember what it felt like that day leading up to the first pitch what was in your head, what was in your heart?

JON LESTER: Yeah, actually, yeah. I still talk about that day a lot. It was such a different experience for me just being, like you said, young once. Kind of the guy that wasn't really counted on for a lot during the season and in the playoffs, to be able to get the ball that day was definitely nerve-racking, but at the same time very exciting.

I just remember warming up and just being nervous and being ready to go and just antsy and wanting to get out on the mound. And I feel like even to this day, once I get on the mound, everything kind of calms down. It's kind of your safe haven out there and you try to zero in on what you're trying to do.

But, yeah, I still talk about that day and still reminisce on it. It was definitely a highlight of my career for a lot of different reasons.

Q. You've talked about, and a lot of people have talked about, the consistency of all the young players and how they've stayed within the realm of their games. Have you noticed any difference during these playoffs and do you and David and some of the other veterans make sure that you pay close attention to what you see just in case they need a little bit of extra help?

JON LESTER: No, I mean, I think these guys have done great. Obviously in the playoffs everything kind of gets magnified and you start back at zero, and if you don't quite get off to the best start in the series, you're looking up there and seeing a .129 batting average or whatever. I think that can kind of put some pressure on guys. Because you work so hard all season to be consistent, and obviously everybody wants to have good numbers and they want to succeed and they want to do well. So when you look back up there and you've had a great season and you're not having such a great postseason, I think guys can kind of put a little pressure on themselves.

But I think these guys have done a great job. I cannot -- I continue to speak highly of them. I will continue to speak highly of them. These guys play well beyond their age and well beyond their years in this game, and that's only going to help us in this organization for years to come.

But as far as tonight, these guys are fine. They're loose. They're ready to go. They've been doing it all year. Joe does a great job of making sure that clubhouse is loose and guys are prepared. That's all you can do. We'll go out there and see how the chips fall tonight. Hopefully, like I said, Ham pitches well and couple of these young guys hit some homers and we'll worry about tomorrow.

Q. You started here Easter Sunday night, Opening Day here. I'm wondering what is the difference, if any, in your comfort level between then and now with ballpark, team, teammates, fans, city, the whole bit?

JON LESTER: Oh, I mean, it's completely different. I mean, I had to fly in early just to know how to get to the ballpark and get to the clubhouse and get settled in, learn my way around and all that stuff. So, yeah, there is obviously a different comfort level now than there was then with what you said, with everything.

With my teammates, I mean, sure, we had a Spring Training or six weeks or whatever to get to know guys, but obviously you have six more months to develop those relationships. I feel like this clubhouse is really tight. I feel like everybody feels like family. Everybody pulls for each other. It's still the cliché of great chemistry and all this stuff. I do believe this clubhouse is a special clubhouse with these guys.

The fans have been great all year. They've shown up even though the bleachers weren't done, and they continue to show up now. I'm sure they'll continue to show up later. It's been a fun year to see kind of how they've embraced us as a team in the city. It's just been a great year for us all. I think especially me just being able to kind of relax a little bit more and settle in and call Chicago home and make it feel like a home, which has been good.

Q. It's been a little different here, after all the talk we've heard of the process, to suddenly hear we don't just have to win one, we have to win four, but that's the reality. With the urgency that you now face, how difficult is it to stay in that process, and what do you do yourself to remain in that position?

JON LESTER: Well, I think you can look at it in one of two ways. You can either look at it as urgency that we have to win, we have to do this, we have to do that. Or you can look at it as we've got nothing to lose. They're supposed to win now, you know what I mean? They're up 3-0. They're supposed to win tonight and just move us aside and go on to the next round. So we can look at it as we've got nothing to lose.

We're going to go out here and battle our butts off and see what happens. But obviously there is that little bit of urgency in the back of your mind saying, yeah, we've got to win this game. But if you look at it the other way, we can go out there, play relaxed and worry about tonight, and hopefully win tonight and then we'll worry about tomorrow. Yeah, we've got to win four, but we've got to worry about each individual game as a one-game playoff now. Hopefully we continue to do that and who knows. We'll see what happens.

Q. You talked about the demeanor of the young players and they've put on a good front, Bryant, Rizzo, in front of the media. Any frustration you've seen out of these guys in these three game sin particular, dugout or clubhouse? Because coming off the Cardinals, it looked like the offense was going, and now it's kind of stalled a little bit. Obviously the Mets have something to do with it.

JON LESTER: Yeah, I think the Mets have something to do with it. Sometimes you've got to tip your hat. This game is hard enough. We beat ourselves up enough and put enough pressure on ourselves that sometimes you have to sit back and go these three guys that we faced the last three games are pretty good themselves.

So, yeah. I think everybody's frustrated. There is frustration for me personally after Game 1. I'm sure there's frustration for Jake, and frustration for some of these guys swinging the bat. It's part of the game.

But with that being said, one thing these guys have done a really good job with all year is they take their frustration out in the dugout or wherever they need to, but as soon as they step out of that dugout, they're worried about defense. And that's hard to do at a young age. I've seen it. I've come up with guys that can't separate it, and these guys do a great job of that. So, yeah, I think everybody's frustrated. We've lost three in a row, and this isn't how we wanted it to go and how we had it envisioned. But at the same time we can't worry about that now. We've got to worry about trying to win tonight.

Q. When a guy like Murphy is as hot as he is, and it's an historic run, really, do you continue to pitch to your own strengths when you face a guy like that or do you have to sort of adjust and react to what he's doing?

JON LESTER: I think with nobody on and in situations where -- I mean, I always like to think that solo homers can't beat you. And you definitely in the playoffs don't want to give up free base runners just because. So it's kind of a -- you're kind of stuck a little bit with him right now. You've just got to hope to make pitches with guys on. Obviously you're going to be a little bit more can careful and not let him beat you that way.

The way I've always looked at it is one guy with nobody on hits a solo homer, it's really not -- it shouldn't affect the whole outcome of the game.

Now, later-in-the-game situations arise where you've got two outs and whoever up on deck, close game or we're tied or whatever, and you obviously need to pitch accordingly to the situation. But for me, I've got to keep attacking and hopefully he swings and misses or hits it at somebody or just misses it.

You've got to play the law of averages sometimes that he's not going to continue to have this historic run, or you just hope he doesn't. Like I said, with nobody on, I think you challenge him and you play the law of averages and hopefully, like I said, he hits it at somebody. With people on, you've got to pitch accordingly to the situation.