Oct. 24 Jon Lester workout day interview

October 24th, 2016

Q. Jon, you've had some insane numbers like with men on base and even if guys steal, you've been able to get out of jams most of the season, second half especially. Anything account for that? Is that just good fortune? Are you elevating your pitch, making better pitches? What do you think with guys on base?

JON LESTER: I don't know. I mean, I guess it could be testament to our defense. I feel like our whole staff has done a really good job with runners on base, not just myself. So really our bullpen as well. So I think it's a testament to our guys making quality pitches and then at the same time, our defense has played really well behind us.

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So we're not afraid of contact and letting these guys do their job as well. So it's been, I think, a culmination of all of us just kind of bearing down.

Q. It's often said that familiarity works against a starting pitcher this time of the year; the more times a hitter gets a look at you, the better they usually do. What do you account for the fact you obviously had two very good starts at the Dodgers in the postseason. All these scouts looking at you and you're still pitching well. What about your repertoire lets you continue that success?

JON LESTER: I don't know. I think I probably really can speak just from this series or this last series. But I had a really good fastball command. It wasn't erratic. It was missing to the side of the plate that I wanted to be on. I think when I'm able to do that, it makes the other pitches better.

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I guess that's kind of like your cookie-cutter answer, but I mean, that's for me what it comes down to. Because then I can get guys to swing at my curveball under, and I can get the cutter to play off the fastball, and everything just works in sync together.

I think that's the big thing. The well-executed fastball in October is just the same as it is in June. So just keep working on that and keep focusing on that, and obviously you don't want any free passes with guys on base and walks. You want to make them earn it and hit the ball.

Q. We always hear from you guys you have to enjoy this moment because you never know when you're going to get back to this level. You are back to this level. What does this mean to you and how much fun is this going to be for you?

JON LESTER: Oh, man, it's awesome, especially to be a part of this organization with all the history and all that fun stuff that we keep being a part of and talking about and this group of guys and all that stuff. Joe talks about staying in the moment, that's kind of his big thing. Always stay in the moment, stay relevant to what we're doing now. And I think this group has done a really good job of that. I think we feed off each other with that saying. We don't look ahead of anything. We stay where we're at.

And we'll enjoy this for the next however many days and see where we're at the at the end. One of us has to win, right?

Q. Yeah, but you personally being on a World Series stage, does it give you any kind of really good feeling?

JON LESTER: Yeah, obviously, we're the last two teams. So obviously this is one of the goals that you set, for me at least, the individual, and as far as team goal you want to make it to this point. You want to be the last team standing and jumping in that dog pile and having fun afterwards.

So, yeah, it's very rewarding to get to this point, but we still have this week to go. Like I said, we'll see what happens.

Q. was talking today about what an inspiration you have been to him having fought through cancer as well. Can you talk about the bond you two have formed and maybe what you remember about the first time you were introduced to Anthony.

JON LESTER: Yeah, I mean, I think we have a unique bond just with everything in our past and what we've been through. I think that makes coming to a team like this as a new guy, last year, it made our relationship a little bit easier. You already had something that joined you. So that was good.

First time I met Anthony, five minutes after I met him, he fainted. So there were some interesting moments early on. But just talking to him through the years here and there and seeing what kind of inspiration this guy is to other people, not only on the field but off the field, and what he's been able to do in the Chicago community and the community back home in Florida, I think, for me that's the cool thing. I look up to him on that. I know how hard it is to do the things that he does outside of baseball, and he does them all over the place, and he puts his whole heart into it.

It's fun to be his teammate, and it's awesome to be a part of kind of the stuff he does off the field, the charitable stuff as well.

Q. Your track record for success in the postseason kind of speaks for itself. How have you learned to harness your emotions when the stage is so much bigger? And was there anyone on the '07 Red Sox or early in your career with the Red Sox who has kind of helped you prepare for that?

JON LESTER: I don't know. I try to harness my emotions, but these stages sometimes -- you know, I pitch with emotion and all that stuff. So sometimes it comes out. But as far as is pitching, I believe as I got done saying, it's a cookie-cutter answer, but you execute your fastball, you execute your pitches. It works the same here as it does during the season. So I just try to take that mindset.

I feel like the guys early on, like Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett, watching those guys perform in the postseason and their track record, just seeing how they went about and prepared. They prepared the same way for this start as they would for a regular start during the season. So I think for me, that's where I learned and really kind of bought into the routine thing. You have a routine, you have the stuff that you're supposed to do day-in and day-out to prepare your body and prepare your mind for these moments. I feel like when I'm in that routine and I show up, now it's the fun part. Now you get to pitch. You spend the other four days kind of busting your butt and sitting around to get to this point.

That's kind of how I've always looked at it. It may not work for other people. It works for me. I've been fortunate enough to be on some really good teams in the postseason as well. So I think that helps.

Q. I know you like to talk about your catcher, but I'm interested to know when that relationship kind of began or how it began. And second part of that is how much more special has this season been because this is his last season, for you guys personally?

JON LESTER: To answer the first part, it kind of started in Boston. To be honest, I don't know if he caught me at all in the first half of that year in '13. I know he missed two months or I don't know how much time. Missed a lot of the season because of the concussion stuff. So it really, I remember one game in particular, it was September. It was a big series against Detroit. Kind of fighting down to the end of the wire as far as all the division and Wild Card stuff. We went over a report, and I think just kind of where we were at that day, we all have different days, we all have good days, we all have bad days. You're in a good mood, you're in a bad mood, whatever. He was in one of those bad moods and we went over the report, and it was like this guy, he's got it. He's got it under control. I can just sit back and just see what he wants and I'll throw it, you know what I mean? So it just so happened we had a good start.

But going into the postseason I just felt like that wore off on a lot of our pitchers. That intensity, and where he wanted the ball, and he expects so much out of you that you want to almost do more sometimes to make him kind of get that approval from your dad type thing. And it just evolved from there.

Then in '14, for whatever reason, John Farrell liked the way that we worked together, and kind of put us together, paired us up. And I threw to him a lot that year. Then obviously coming over here. The intention behind getting him here was not to catch me. It was for his personality and what he does with the pitching staff not only on the bench but when he plays. I wanted that to rub off on these guys because I knew how young of a team we were going to have. So that was the intent. It just so happens I get stuck with him every five days and have to deal with it.

But to answer the second part of your question, yeah, it's special to be in this situation now with him in his last kind of hurrah and to be now in the World Series. Like I said, that's everybody's goal. So I'm sure he's really excited to get this thing going as well. It's really cool to be a part of, because you kind of know when things are going to be over, and one way or the other it's going to be -- it's still a fun and exciting time.

Q. You were talking before about trying to make this and making this like a regular season start, nothing different. At the same time, I know you're not in a vacuum. You know it's a more important game. Where's the balance there? Do you like being in this spotlight role where the nation and the baseball world is looking at you as the Cubs' starting pitcher?

JON LESTER: I don't know. I don't look at it that way. I look at it as kind of a unit, as a team. As far as the emotional side of it, yeah. I'm not naive to the situation. You know, there will be nerves and there will be adrenaline and all that stuff when I go out there to throw the first pitch and kind of get the ball rolling. But once you get into the game, I feel like then you're able to go back to your game plan and what you're trying to think of. That's why I said I go to my routine, and I go to my studying, so I have other things on my mind where I'm out there and thinking, okay, what do I need to do against this guy? I'm not worried about the crowd or worried about this and that.

So, like I said, yeah, I don't look at it as the nation looking at me as a starting pitcher and all that stuff. I look at it as we're the Chicago Cubs, and I'm fortunate enough to pitch Game 1 tomorrow, and we're going to try to win that game. That's how I kind of look at it.

Q. How would you describe your relationship with Terry Francona, and why do you think he is so effective in communicating with players?

JON LESTER: Our relationship, just going back to Boston is, I think, very unique just because of the situation. Just because of '06 and getting sick and all that stuff. I think we have -- I can't speak for all the players that play under him or have played under him and all that stuff, but I think we have a unique friendship there and unique bond just based on that, kind of like Anthony. I grew up with him, basically, as my manager. So he groomed me and helped me kind of stay in the right direction as far as being a professional baseball player. He's a pro.

Like you said, he communicates so well. He cares. He cares about each individual player, and I think he treats everybody like family. I think that's the big thing I felt. That's the way I felt when I played for him is, I wasn't just a player to him. I was part of his family. And I think that's why he's very, very good at his job, and I think that's why guys love playing for him. He cares about you not only as a person, but as a ballplayer, and he always has your best interest when he makes decisions out there.

Q. Another one of your ex-teammates, , ALCS MVP. Your impressions of him putting it all together right now?

JON LESTER: Yeah, we kind of saw it. He came to the Red Sox in '12, I believe, and was still starting. Came back in '13, and they were like, "All right, you're just going to be a reliever, and this is what we want you to do." You could kind of see it just building through that year. Unfortunately, he got hurt for us. We were talking about it the other day. We were like, man, our bullpen was lockdown at the end of that year and we didn't have this guy. This guy didn't even pitch for us in the postseason.

But to see him evolve and just build that confidence and build the repertoire that he has. You see what he's able to do with his slider, but not only that, with his fastball. He locates his heater. He's not just a rock chucker up there throwing it and hoping that they swing and miss. He has an idea, as Joe said, he's a very intelligent guy that thinks through at-bats.

Even though he was throwing 97, he's still thinking through at-bats and going to guys' weakness, and obviously having nasty stuff helps as well. But it's awesome to see. Like Joe, going back to what Joe said, he's such a good guy, he cares so much. He wants to do almost too well for his teammates. So I'm happy to see it. Hopefully I don't get to see him too much in this series, because I know it's going to be tough on our hitters. But I'm really happy for him and where he's come.