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Oct. 10 John Lackey pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. John, now that you've been with this Cubs team for a full season, what's impressed you most about it? Not just the record, but the way the group goes about its business?

JOHN LACKEY: I think we're pretty consistent in the way we go about things. I think that there's -- it starts with Joe, obviously. We have been -- since day one Spring Training, there's been high expectations. But I think we have embraced those. And just he really has an atmosphere in the clubhouse that's pretty loose, and it helps especially some of our young guys play free and not play nervous and really get after it.

Q. John, now that you've been with this Cubs team for a full season, what's impressed you most about it? Not just the record, but the way the group goes about its business?

JOHN LACKEY: I think we're pretty consistent in the way we go about things. I think that there's -- it starts with Joe, obviously. We have been -- since day one Spring Training, there's been high expectations. But I think we have embraced those. And just he really has an atmosphere in the clubhouse that's pretty loose, and it helps especially some of our young guys play free and not play nervous and really get after it.

Q. You've obviously got some playoff experience in the past against this team. What can you use to draw from that and what in particular are your memories of the 2002 World Series?

JOHN LACKEY: Seems like a long time ago, really. Yeah, that has nothing to do with tomorrow, for sure. I think I'm probably the only one that was involved in that. So, yeah, I've had several postseason starts, and one doesn't really affect the next one. You kind of know what to expect on the outside like as far as the fly-overs and all the more time in between innings and that kind of stuff, you know how to handle that, but once you get in the game, it's another game, another challenge.

Q. Is there such a thing as stepping it up a notch, we talk about it in the media or fans, in postseason? And if there is such a thing, what is different that a pitcher can do?

JOHN LACKEY: Yeah, I guess there is something, there is that, for sure. I feel like there are some guys that are better in bigger games, for sure, but I think that over the years I found that you're going to feel something different, you're going to be a little more amped up. And to fight that sometimes can be counterproductive. If you embrace it and use it, it can take you to another level.

Q. You guys called up Willson Contreras in June, and it seemed like he was kind of thrown right into the fire, catching a lot, and then hitting clean-up, playing in the outfield. Just what's your take on Contreras? And also to go back to that 2002, your team in 2002 trusted you a ton. And how much did that benefit you going forward in your career?

JOHN LACKEY: As far as Willie goes, yeah, he got a lot put on his plate early on. He came in, got put right in the middle of the order and had to learn a pretty veteran pitching staff as far as calling a game. And being a pretty young catcher, a guy that hadn't caught for a while.

So really impressed with the adjustments he's made since then, his game calling and his receiving. Everything has gotten tons better in the last couple months. So, definitely impressed with him, because the talent's there, just the game calling and slowing some things down is kind of the last step for him.

And as far as -- what was it? 2002 still?

Q. The benefit of being put into big spots when you're just a rookie.

JOHN LACKEY: Right, yeah. I mean, Sciosc and those guys obviously had some confidence in me and in 2002 to put me in some big games. And I guess that can carry over, because I've been fortunate to be on several playoff teams and been in these spots a couple times.

Q. You know Joe from back in the day. Is there anything about him that you think that -- you played for a few managers -- that makes him stick out or makes him so successful?

JOHN LACKEY: The consistency. Like I talk about, like there's no panic there. We have fun in the clubhouse. When we get on the field, it's time to work and time to be a professional. He trusts guys to be pros. And we don't have a whole lot of mandatory things that you have to do. He trusts guys to get their work in and be prepared.

Q. If the series happens to end tonight, then you're facing again a kind of significant layoff. How does that play into your approach?

JOHN LACKEY: Yeah, this time of year, the only thing I'm focused on is doing everything I can to help the team. Tonight I'll be pulling like heck for Jake and preparing, watching some film, that kind of thing, but if we happen to win tonight, that's a pretty good problem to have. I think we'll be all right.

Q. You said Joe doesn't panic. Was there ever a time this year where another manager might have panicked? Were there moments? You guys went into first place right away, so I'm curious if there was a time that you could have seen it.

JOHN LACKEY: No, nothing really stuck out. I think that as a group we're pretty good at handling our own business and kind of staying in our clubhouse and doing our thing. Because we got a pretty talented team. If we handle our business and play up to our capabilities, we look our chances.

Q. Given how well the Cubs this season has gone over a hundred wins and everything, what's the level of expectation you think pressure-wise of how well you guys did, if -- as far as like where this team should end up?

JOHN LACKEY: From day one, we have been talking about winning the World Series. That's the goal. We want to be the last one standing, and that has not changed.

Q. Joe mentioned that he gave Javy a stare when he didn't run hard. Ross has given him a stare. Is that all it takes from a veteran group or a manager, just to stare sometimes to young guy?

JOHN LACKEY: For sure. There's definitely some accountability in the room that helps some of the young guys. David is really good at that with the position players and with the pitchers, I may have a little bit to do with some of the things. But it's a group that is really talented but really, really they listen, too. It's a good group of guys, too. So, it's a really fun atmosphere to be a part of.

Q. How good has the fielding behind all the pitching been this year for the Cubs?

JOHN LACKEY: Really good. I think that our youth has helped some of that. We have got probably more range than most teams because of the youth and the guys that got a little more energy, can go side to side, that sort of thing, as opposed to maybe if we had some older guys like myself. Thank goodness I don't play defense.

But, yeah, I really think that the youth has helped that for sure, and obviously the talent level.

Q. Obviously, pitchers are creatures of habit. But I wonder, the position players getting moved around so much, getting moved in the order so much, do you think that's difficult for some guys?

JOHN LACKEY: I think it could be, for sure, but I think that it might be more difficult as a veteran guy, an older guy. I think that we got -- the youth there helps us as well, and it's a real selfless group. It's a group that wants to win.

And that's the main goal every night. It doesn't really matter where you're playing, where you're hitting, just get your job done that night.