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October 22, 2013

Jon Lester


Q.  I wonder if you could expand on the difference John Farrell has made for you and the staff this year.  We knew he had a history with the team and was successful.  He was gone for a couple of years.  Last year the plug came out of the tub and it was a rough year.  What impact, what role has he had with this year's success?
JON LESTER:   I think it all kind of goes back to Spring Training.  I think really the biggest thing is he's stayed out of Juan's (Nieves) way.  I think he's had relationships with guys here before.  And when you have that coming in as a manager, he's already in charge of the team and you want to try to overstep the pitching coach, I think things can get a little dicey then.
He sat down with us early in spring, we got things all ironed out as far as what worked for us individually.  Juan busted his butt since day one to learn everything to fit in with us and it's gone smoothly since.
I think that goes solely on to Juan.¬† He's done a great job of, like I said, learning ‑‑ getting the scouting part done, making sure that we have everything we need to succeed.¬† It's been a great, seamless transition since day one.

Q.  You started and won the last World Series game this franchise won.  What do you remember about that night in Denver, given that it was obviously a very emotional year for you and that it culminated your comeback from cancer?  And how do you think tomorrow night will be different from that for you as an experience?
JON LESTER:   I think completely, you know, at different ends for me.  Like you said, different circumstances at the time.  Kind of getting thrown into that position.  Wasn't expected to get a start.  And kind of fortunately get that opportunity.  But, yeah, I mean I just remember nerves.  I remember just the anxiety of trying to just get to the field and calm down a little bit.  Different point in my career, I think, too.
Obviously tomorrow there will still be nerves, there will still be all that to be expected.  But I think I know who I am a little bit more as a pitcher and what to expect from myself and what to expect from the crowd and all the different things that go along with getting a start in the World Series.
We talk about every start is a learning experience, and if I can go back to that one and draw something, that will hopefully help me tomorrow, then that would be great.

Q.  Just following that up a little, still I imagine as a cancer survivor and what you do to help support other people, that starting Game1 of the World Series has more global view of it than just if it was somebody else starting the game.  What's your feelings about that?
JON LESTER:   I mean, to be honest with you, I hadn't really thought of it that way.  I'm glad you brought it up.  But, yeah, if that story gets out tomorrow and that helps somebody in a hospital room or helps somebody that's struggling with their treatment or whatever it is, great.  That's kind of what we try to do in our foundation, as well, and spread the word of cancer awareness.
Yeah, I mean it's a big honor to take that stage with that next to my name.  And like I said, hopefully I can help somebody that's struggling with it a little bit.

Q.  How much have you enjoyed pitching in this starting rotation this year?  And how big a factor do you think it's been in the success the team has had?
JON LESTER:   Well, to answer your question, starting rotation has been great.  I think we gelled together early on in Spring Training, to go back to the first question, with Juan.  And took our jobs very serious and what we needed to do to make this team get back to this point.
But I think it really comes down to not only the starting rotation but the entire team.  This has really been the only team I've ever been on where just the starting pitchers don't hang out, everybody hangs out together.  Everybody gets together.  Everybody has a good time.  And I think that's what makes this team special.  It doesn't matter if you're a catcher that gets called up for a month from Pawtucket or if you're John Lackey or Jonny Gomes or whoever, everybody pulls for one another, and we all have a good time doing it.  And I think that's the biggest thing that has made this team who it is from day one of Spring Training.

Q.  Could you talk about, some of us who are old enough to cover the 2001 Series, knew the amazing connection from New York after the terrorist attack and the Yankees that year.  Not quite the same, but there is a similarity with the attacks in April, what the city has gone through, the way the team sort of seemed to symbolize the city coming back.  What has this year been like for you?  And how satisfying is it to make the Series in the year that Boston has had some tough knocks?
JON LESTER:   Yeah, absolutely.  I think going back to that time, a lot of shock, a lot of what's going on, just a lot of questions.  And for us to, I think, really this team took it to heart as far as, let's give these people something to think about other than what's going on right now.  And I think that brought us closer.  I think it brought the city a lot closer to us.  Obviously the last couple of years haven't been that great up here.
So for us to give this city a little bit of glimmer of hope right there, I think really helped the city, helped us as a baseball team.  And to now to finally get to this point in this year, I think it's just huge.  Kind of the same thing.  Makes people forget.  At the same time be respectful about it.  But if we can take those people's minds off of their injuries or whatever it may be, their suffering, then that's our job; that's what we're going to try to do.

Q.  Can you talk about facing the Cardinals and what problems will they present?  They're a lot like the Red Sox; they grind everything out.
JON LESTER:   It's going to be a tough series, I think all of them have been, and we've got to really prepare.  Like you said, it's a tough lineup.  Having the DH for them, adds that little X factor for them; they've got Craig coming back.  It's another piece you have to prepare for.  But when it comes down to it, just like with the Detroit Tigers, you've got to execute pitches.  In the postseason you've got to stay away from big innings.  If you can minimize that to one, maybe two runs, and give your team a chance.  Obviously with their pitching staff, it's going to be tough again for us.  But keep them in the ballgame and hopefully in the end have a chance to win.

Q.  You've only faced the Cardinals one time, and that was a while ago, and only a handful of their hitters.  Is it fun to prepare for a team like that you haven't prepared for?  What are the challenges that go into that?
JON LESTER:   I think for me I'm a visual person, so I like to prepare for a team by kind of watching what I've done against them in the past.  That's going to be a little tough.  But that's where you rely on your scouting department.  You rely on your catcher, your pitching coach, to give you the information that you need.
So I'll go in today and take a look at some video of these guys facing left‑handed pitchers and try to take something from that.¬† We've got our books, we've got all the information in front of us.¬† Just have to do a little bit more of some number crunching and try to be as prepared as I can tomorrow on that side of the ball.
So hopefully Rossy or Salty, whoever is catching tomorrow, has got their game plan locked in and we go over it, and then go to try to execute pitches from there.

Q.  Last series the starting pitchers for the Tigers got all the hype.  And in this series it's Wainwright and Wacha.  Do you feel like you're getting slighted or do you like the underdog role?
JON LESTER:   I don't know.  I don't really pay attention to it much.  I know what we have in our clubhouse and I know what they have in their clubhouse.  And obviously Wacha has done a great job in this season, so has Wainwright.  And you know who you're going up against, but thankfully I don't have to worry about them.  You hope that they make a couple of mistakes in the game and you don't, and our offense scores some runs.
But as far as the underdog side of it, I think we've been underdog since day one.  I think we were expected to finish last in the East.  Kind of like last year, go home with our tails between our legs.  We'll take every challenge we can, and don't worry about being underdogs or not. Just go out and compete like we've done all year.

Q.  National League teams that don't come here very often and haven't fared very well here in many years.  How big an advantage is it for the Red Sox to know the quirks of this ballpark, as opposed to a team that's only seen it on occasion?
JON LESTER:   I think that's something that obviously favors us a little bit.  Favors our left fielder, I think more than anything.  But it still comes down to the same stuff that baseball comes down to, executing, whether it be offensively or the defensive side or the pitching side.  Obviously having the Green Monster out there helps us.  We know how to play it.  We know how the ball is going to come off of it, but if you don't allow the ball to go up there, you don't have to really worry about it too much.

Q.¬† How much stock do you put into what a team does with runners in scoring position, and St. Louis's eye‑popping numbers in that spot?
JON LESTER:   I haven't seen any numbers.  If you get a guy in scoring position, it's your job to get him in.  From what I've heard, and like I said, I haven't seen particular numbers, but these guys do a good job of that.  So you just have to bear down in those situations.  Years past the Yankees were unbelievable at that.  It was almost a guarantee they get a guy on second base with one out or no outs, they're probably going to score.
You have to minimize those innings, however you can.  And like I said, the biggest thing is don't let it turn into a big inning, and that's where you get into some trouble in the postseason.

Q.  When a team goes from worst to first, 69 wins to I think 97 wins, the manager is going to get a lot of credit.  Assuming that's true, where would you give manager John Farrell the most credit?  The biggest difference he's made to this team would be what?
JON LESTER:¬†¬† I think kind of go back to your first question.¬† It goes back to the first day of Spring Training.¬† I think his defining moment for me, personally, as our manager this year.¬† He came in that room, obviously I knew about his presence from him being my pitching coach in years past.¬† He came in there with a presence.¬† Came in there with his idea of how he wanted to run this team, and stood up there in front of us and told us how he wanted it done.¬† And I think the 40 guys or whatever that was in that room kind of looked around and it was like, okay, let's go do it.¬† And I think that right there ‑‑ like I said, for me, other guys may have different answers for you, but for me that set the tone day one, first 20 minutes of the season, this is how I want it done, and this is how you guys are going to do it.¬† And nobody had any questions and everybody went out there and did it.¬† And it was our job to go out there and do what he told us to do.¬† And I think we've done a good job of that.

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