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October 15, 2016

Miguel Montero

Jon Lester

Chicago, Illinois - Postgame 1

Cubs - 8, Dodgers - 4

THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Miguel, you've been through an awful lot here this year with the Cubs, and there was some talk that your back might not let you even go in this series. So what was that moment like for you when you hit that?
MIGUEL MONTERO: I don't know where that came from, with my back. I've been pretty good with my back. Obviously, you never feel a hundred percent, but I never doubted it. My back felt pretty good enough to play, and I think I just proved it today. It's been tough, it's been difficult, it's been -- obviously when you played every day and then you come to a situation with three catchers, you have to man up and get the best out of it. And that's what I've been doing this year, been trying to be the best teammate I can be and the times that I get to play, do my job.

Q. Miguel, you've talked more than once about how you dream of situations like that and coming through. So now that you've done that, how does it feel?
MIGUEL MONTERO: Well, I haven't done it. I still got a little ways to go. Hopefully it gets in a bigger stage. But, yeah, obviously as a kid you always dream of the situations. And that's what you live for. It's easy to hit a grand slam in the first inning when nobody is actually screaming at it, and this one is a lot more special because it's in front of this special crowd that we have, and you're always looking for that. You always look for -- you want to see how it feels and you always keep searching for it, see it's going to feel better the next time. And it's a great sensation, and you keep searching for it. And I'm going to keep searching to see if it gets even better.

Q. Miguel, I think that --
MIGUEL MONTERO: We got Lester here, guys.


JON LESTER: I'm happy with this right now.

Q. Everybody has a pretty good idea of what Joe Blanton does. Do you dare look slider?
MIGUEL MONTERO: No. No. I don't think I have pretty good success the last maybe six, seven at-bats, it's been a little -- I don't know, like I couldn't really figure it out the last couple at-bats. And today obviously after the first pitch, I'm looking something middle, middle in, and he threw me that slider. It was a really good pitch to hit, and I missed it. And in my mind was like, oh, my God, I missed that. That was a perfect pitch to hit. But you have to step off the box and just put yourself together and try -- all I was trying to do was get a base hit. Don't strike out right here. Get a good pitch and try to put the ball in play and make something happen. But to be honest, in the back of my head I was like, I want that slider back, because it was such a good pitch to hit. And I guess he heard me because he threw it back, and luckily I hit the ball pretty good.

Q. Jon, what was the discussion like with Joe when he pulled you back for Jorge, and then maybe the range of emotion seeing the Dodgers come back and then your guys take the lead again?
JON LESTER: When you're on deck, you don't really have a chance to have a discussion, you know. It is what it is. I don't get paid to make decisions; I get paid to pitch. So that's his decision to make, and obviously we got a lot of guys on that bench that can swing the bat a lot better than I can, obviously. So, it is what it is. Would I have liked to have gone out for the 7th? Absolutely. But you got to understand the situation and put yourself kind of what the manager's trying to do. And as far as late in the game, they had some good at-bats against our relievers. We have some really tough relievers down there, and they put together some good at-bats and got some hits and got some guys on base. And obviously anytime you have Chapman in the game, you feel good about it. Adrian's been doing this a long time and stays in that ball back up the middle. But obviously this guy and Dex, the next inning we come right back out and put up, what, five, six, whatever it was. So, kind of erases all that stuff, and it's just good to get the W. We move on and we got Kersh tomorrow and we know how tough that's going to be. So, hopefully we have the same at-bats and take the same mindset going into Game 2.

Q. Jon, there was some pretty good plays behind you in the field today, Dexter going to his left, Dexter going to his right, that ground ball by Puig that Rizzo snared. Do you at this point expect those guys to make those plays, and have you been able to pitch differently this year because of the fielders behind you?
JON LESTER: I don't want to say I don't expect those plays to be made, but when Dex makes those two diving plays in the outfield, obviously those are huge, huge momentum changes for us. The one was kind of a falling line drive to his left going into right center. I think that the wind actually helped me there, helped keep that ball up a little bit. And then the one that Ruiz hit was a bad pitch that he squared up and hit that really well. I didn't expect that ball to be caught at all, and Dex came out of nowhere. He's playing in the right center gap and running to left center and makes a great play. There was a lot of great plays. A lot of balls hit right at guys tonight, which is very fortunate for me. Riz makes a great play with Puig. We're kind of playing him off the line. And usually as a pitcher you don't -- you see a ball hit in that hole, you don't run over immediately because you don't expect a guy to be there. But for whatever reason I got a good first step off that one and was able to get over there. So, our defense has been great all year. I don't think you pitch any different. I think you still attack and make guys put the ball in play, because really the law of averages for us as pitchers is even as a good hitter is still you're failing seven out of ten times. So, that's with a good hitter. So I like our chances and make good quality pitches and see what happens.

Q. Miguel, as that 8th inning played out and you had a good idea that you were going to be used to hit for the pitcher's spot, how much were you looking to see if they stuck with the right-handed pitcher instead of going to a left-hander?
MIGUEL MONTERO: Honestly, I was ready to hit, but I never thought they were going let the right-hander out and I don't think Joe either. I don't think Joe was expecting that to happen either. But like I kind of look in a couple times and I didn't see the manager come out and I'm like, yeah, awesome, because I was ready to hit. But it's just, we just thought like we don't make decisions, we just get paid to play and they put me in, and I was more than happy to get that at-bat with bases loaded. Obviously you feel better with a good result. You would probably be feeling really bad if you don't. But you still always are looking for those type of at-bats. You don't want to come up and lead off, but -- and luckily like I was the winner today, and tomorrow can be the same situation and it doesn't work out. But you always get your mindset for it.

Q. Along those same lines, when did you start getting loose, like right when the inning started? Did Joe come over and say something to you? Or did you see the pitchers spot was going to come up later?
MIGUEL MONTERO: To be honest, I started getting loose about three o'clock in the afternoon. And then --

JON LESTER: You are old. You are old.

MIGUEL MONTERO: I got in the hot tub probably 17 times. No, I got ready like -- normally, like my regular routine, I get -- start swinging the bat in the cage. Henry Blanco throws to us like in the fourth inning, so we probably take about 50, 60 swings since the fourth inning until the sixth. And then you're pretty loose by then. And then if the time comes, like you know that certain situation is going to come up, you go and probably take another five, 10 swings, and that's about it. So that's what I did. In the beginning, actually -- on the bottom, actually the bottom of the 8th inning, I came in and took probably about six, seven swings, and then I walked out. I put my whole things -- I put the whole things together, and then I was just out on the bench waiting for the call. And like I say, I thought they were going to bring the lefty, and they didn't and I got to pinch hit. But I was ready. Either way.

Q. Jon, the Dodgers don't bunt very often, and you had a bunch of guys that squared early. They don't run very often, yet a bunch of guys danced around near their base. Is this just routine for you? Does it enter your consciousness at all, the chaos they're attempting to create? Does it bother you at all?
JON LESTER: Yeah, it is what it is. I haven't run from anything. I've been honest with everybody about it, so it is what it is. It's hard to bunt. It's hard to bunt. They squared around a lot, bunted through a couple balls. Pederson bunts a ball directly back to Kris Bryant, which I'm like: Thank you. I would rather him try to bunt than swing. So, we got Adrian Gonzalez up there trying to bunt, you got all that's other guys. So it is what it is. We have really good defense. And you know what? I mean, if they bunt it, then I would rather those guys bunt it than try to hit it over the fence. Especially tonight with the wind blowing out. So, whereas like you got an Ethier ball where sounded terrible off the bat but he got it up there high enough where it -- it's a homer. It doesn't matter how good or bad he hit it, it's a homer. So, I would rather those guys try to bunt than do that.

Q. I wasn't going to ask about that, but on that subject, right before Maeda's hit you stepped off the mound and kind of walked towards second and got Gonzalez to cut down his lead. Do you think that played any role in him getting thrown out at the plate? And what I was going to ask, second time you pitched a Game 1, that was in the balance late in the game and you guys win both of them. How significant do you think the win is?
JON LESTER: The first part, I mean, I know Adrian pretty well, I know won't take offense to this, but he's really slow. I mean, he really is. He's not the fastest guy in the world. So, you know, I know -- I knew what they were trying to do. They were trying to mess with me and trying to get me off my game. Two outs, we're not even really holding anybody on. Our second baseman and shortstop are playing shortstop and second base. So it's not even really anything -- I saw him kind of dancing off and I just wanted to regroup myself more than anything. A couple guys on there, just trying to regroup, and the whole situation. So, Zo made a great throw, one-hop throw to Ross-y, and Ross-y caught. Obviously, it's always hard for a catcher when the ball bounces. You have to ask a catcher, but I always feel like when the ball bounces, it's hard for those guys to stay on that ball with that glove. Zo made a great throw, one hop, we get the guy out. So that's awesome. As far as the Game 1, I mean, this is a long series, but anytime you're able to win Game 1, that's obviously a huge boost for us in the clubhouse. So that's huge. But at the same time they got Kersh going tomorrow. Like I said, it's going to be a tough task for us, whether he's on normal rest or short rest or long rest, whatever it is. We still have to grind out these next few games, when we go out to L.A., which we know those guys play tough out there, so it's obviously nice to get off to a good start, like I said. But at the end-all, end-all, you know, like I said, it's a seven-game series. We got a long ways to go.

Q. You had the best seat in the house for Baez coming home. What are you thinking in that moment when you try to lay the bunt down and then he steals home in front of you?
JON LESTER: I thought I screwed up. I thought I screwed up. I saw the sign one way and the ball wasn't even close to being a strike and I pulled the bat back and all of a sudden he's sliding at home, and I'm looking at him like, hey, man, what are you doing? And he's like, well, I messed up. I'm like, okay, well, at least I didn't mess up. As a pitcher, when you're looking at signs, you want -- that's the main thing you don't want to do is screw up the signs because we got one job, it's just not to screw anything up. And that's really what it is when it comes to hitting. Or at least the way I feel. But he's so athletic. You guys have seen what this guys's done this last two series if not the whole year. To do what he did right there, I mean, he's probably, what, eight steps off of third, 10 steps off of third and he beats a throw and we and we score a run on a mistake. So, this guy's been unbelievable for us all year, he's unbelievable defense, but I think the thing that gets kind of overlooked is how he's able it run the bases. It looks a little reckless sometimes, but, I mean, you would have to ask him. I feel like he knows what he's doing. That's the way it looks like from the dugout. But really, in that situation, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss a sign somewhere and get a suicide squeeze as opposed to a safety squeeze.


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