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Oct. 29 Jon Lester pregame interview

October 29, 2016

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jon Lester.Q. Generally speaking in a series like this, when you face a team for a second time, what sort of advantages can you take out of that?JON LESTER: I think the biggest thing is just seeing them, you know, especially a team like this that

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jon Lester.

Q. Generally speaking in a series like this, when you face a team for a second time, what sort of advantages can you take out of that?

JON LESTER: I think the biggest thing is just seeing them, you know, especially a team like this that you haven't really seen a lot of. There are a few guys over there that I haven't faced a lot, if at all. So you'll be able to draw from that information, make the adjustments that you need to make from the previous start and just kind of go from there.

You still have to execute pitches no matter what the game plan is against guys. And the guys you've had success against, you just try to continue to have success against, and the guys you didn't, you try to make the adjustments off of that.

Q. For all the success you guys had this regular season, you guys handled the adversity well in the NLCS when down 2-1. What is the mindset to this team down 2-1 again, and looking to get back and take the series?

JON LESTER: I mean, the same. I mean, we're focused on tonight. We're worried about trying to figure Kluber out. Hopefully he's not as sharp as he was last time, and we can get a few off of him. We obviously know what Lackey will bring as far as his intensity and preparation and all that stuff that he'll have tonight.

So I mean, I think obviously it's not the ideal situation. We'd rather be on the other side, but guys are confident. Guys are ready to play. Last night was fun. It was a good baseball game. Unfortunately, like I said, we were on the wrong side of it. But we played good, clean baseball. We just didn't scratch any across.

Q. I don't recall the past history with you in the playoffs, but in a Game 4, what is the difference if you're pitching 2-2 or down 1-3, or is there anything?

JON LESTER: I mean, I don't think you can really take it any different than any other start, whether you're tied or whether you're down or up. I think you have to have the same mindset going into it. It's hard enough to pitch this time of year or play this time of year and be successful. I think if you're down 3-1 and you're going in there saying you have to do this, you have to do that to try to stay alive, I think you've kind of already been beaten, you know? You're not worried about the right thing.

I can't control what goes on tonight. All I can control, I keep talking about going back to my routine and being prepared. I try to focus on that. And whatever we are come tomorrow, I'll be prepared and ready to go.

Q. You didn't face this Cleveland team in the regular season. I know you have your scouting reports. But what have you learned about your opponent in this series that maybe you didn't know going into the series?

JON LESTER: Well, I mean, we kind of saw it -- being a baseball fan myself I watched the playoffs and everything coming up to this point, leading up to this point. The thing that impressed me the most was watching them through the rounds and now getting to see them in person. It's just kind of how -- I don't want to say "scrappy" because they're not really a scrappy team. They have really talented hitters and talented players. But their at-bats, they're grinds. They see a lot of pitches. They foul a lot of good pitches off. You know, you have some guys that like to swing, but they're not swing-and-miss guys. So that can be tough.

You have a lot of contact in that lineup. So that puts pressure on your defense when you're able to do that. When you don't strike out a lot, that puts pressure on your defense, and makes you continually execute pitches. And I think that's where they wear the starting pitcher down and get to that bullpen early.

Q. How much do you think you benefitted when you were younger and you had teammates like Schilling, Josh Beckett, Lackey in Boston and see how they prepared for postseason starts?

JON LESTER: Oh, 100 percent. I go back to '06-07, Tito came up to me in Spring Training I think in '06, and he basically said, you know, "Stay in Josh Beckett's back pocket. Don't leave his side. Follow him and see what he does." Obviously there was a little bit more of an age gap between me and Schill, but you sit back and you see all the stuff he does and how he prepares. He's more of a statistical kind of guy, whereas Beckett was more the physical side. Like he spent more time in the gym and then would focus on the stat stuff when he needed to.

So those two guys, then just to see how they went about their playoff starts. That was the thing for me that amazed me, is nothing changed. They didn't put any more emphasis on one thing or the other. It stayed consistent, and it was in their routine and they dove into that. I think that was kind of their escape. Over the years I kind of figured that out, that you stay in that routine and it kind of keeps you sane this time of year. It's such a hard time of year with all the travel and game times and bouncing around with emotions and all this stuff. So if you're able to have a separation, I think that can only help.

Q. Talk about watching the Indians. Do you see any common denominators with their pitchers in getting so many big outs? I think they've held their opponents to .130, something like that, runners in scoring position this postseason.

JON LESTER: They've just been really, really good at executing pitches in those situations. I mean, you look at the guys they're running in there, Andrew Miller from the left side probably has the best slider in baseball with 96. It's not like he's throwing 89 with a good slider. Then you've got Shaw and you've got -- I can't think of their closer's name off the top of my head. These guys have great stuff. You see them in the moment just making pitches over and over and over again. It's just like hitting. When you get pitchers, like starting rotation and in your bullpen, you get guys that continually make pitches, it's contagious. You go out there and they keep running these guys out there and they keep doing it.

We did it last night, too. So it wasn't like any of the other games; it was a 1-0 game. So our guys have done a really good job of minimizing damage as well.

It's a fun series. It's two teams that are pretty evenly matched across the board, I feel like.

Q. Without giving too much away, obviously, looking back at Game 1 and analyzing it, what were maybe the key analysis points that you might have to make in terms of adjustments looking into Game 5?

JON LESTER: The first inning. That was the game. Anytime you've got a guy like Kluber going against you, you can't give up much. Then come to find out just how locked in he was.

So like I said, I don't mind giving up hits and giving up homers. It's the walks and the hit-by-pitch that really haunt me in that first inning. So you can't give up free base runners, especially this time of year. You just give them more opportunities to see you. You have to make more pitches. You may have to show your hand a little bit earlier in what you're trying to do to guys.

So it's a matter of walks. I don't care about the base hit. I don't care about the stolen base. I still have one pitch away from getting out of that inning. And I've got Napoli up, down 2-0, I'm not going to give in. So I still have a free base. The next batter I need to make better pitches. Didn't do that.

So for me, after that, we made adjustments and gave up some hits, but nothing except for the homer. I don't mind that, solo homer on a bad pitch. I can sleep at night with that. The walks, the walks and the hit-by-pitch, especially 0-2, that can't happen.

Q. You guys have done a really good job of keeping the running game of opponents to a minimum, and pick-off plays have been really important for you guys, too. Can you just talk about that element of the game and how important it is and how you achieve that?

JON LESTER: Yeah, that's a testament to our catching staff as a whole. It's a testament to Riz and the middle infielders on what they're doing with guys. Even whoever plays third base, KB's been playing third base a lot for us lately. Javy's playing third base. So it's a testament to those guys. They're getting creative. They're doing different things.

It helps when you have catchers that love throwing the ball. If you have guys that don't like back-picking for whatever reason, you know, each guy's different. But Willie, I mean, you watch Willie for two innings, you understand this guy wants to show his arm off. It's an impressive arm. If I had an arm like that, I would, too. He's a special talent.

You know, anytime you're able to get free outs like that from those guys, it's huge. It helps us out. Like I said, I think it all goes back to Spring Training and Joe and Davey (Martinez) and these guys working on it with these catchers and making it a point. They do an unbelievable job with it.

Q. When you pitched in the postseason in '07, you were a lot closer to having overcome the lymphoma. People talk about it a lot less now, but I wonder how in the decade since, the fact that you did overcome that affects your life on a day-to-day basis?

JON LESTER: Yeah, absolutely. It makes me feel old that you said a decade ago, though. Yeah, I think being in that moment in that atmosphere in '07, just especially being in that situation so close to coming back from it, I think made it easier for me to deal with that situation. I think it's made my life as a baseball player a lot easier, because at one time it was taken away from me. I didn't know if I was going to be able to do this again. Like you said, a decade later, here we are, still doing well.

So very fortunate. I'm very thankful for everything. Very thankful for all the doctors and the research and everything that was put into that. That's why the foundation that we started is research based, because without those guys, I wouldn't be here. So, yeah, I think it's helped mold me at an early age, being a part of the organization that I was with at that time with those people I think it really helped as well.

Q. The Indians are bringing Kluber back tonight, obviously, so he can go Game 7, if necessary. Was there ever any discussion to do the same with you because it's a World Series?

JON LESTER: No, no. No, I mean, I wasn't approached by it. I didn't approach Joe about it. We've got really good pitchers that are lined up. So I think they feel and we feel that bringing whoever back on short rest, the guy that we're running out there that night's going to do just fine.

So I think we're good with what we're doing. I would never in a million years ask to take John Lackey's spot in a postseason start. That's what this guy's made for.

I think every game is important, and I think every guy that we run out there's important because without the guys that we're running out there throughout the season, we wouldn't be where we're at. So I feel like we're good without the short rest.

Q. I know there's a lot of unsung coaches on your team and in baseball, but can you talk about Mike Borzello and what he brings to the catchers, to the game plan every day and your team in general?

JON LESTER: Yeah, I don't know if you guys have really seen the maturation process of Willson since he's been up here. But Borzie does such a good job with those guys. You know, in a translation, he helps us out. He's there for every one of our bullpens. Anything that you need, this guy will do. The language that he speaks as far as the scouting report stuff is just so easy to break down and so easy to remember and to comprehend that it makes our jobs a lot easier when we're on the mound, trying to recall all this stuff from the night before or the day of when you're out there grinding and pitching.

So the importance of Borzie, I mean, you can't really -- I don't feel like you can describe what this guy's done for this team and our pitching staff. Him and Boz (Bosio) work pretty close in all that stuff, so I feel like we have a good team. You've got Borzie with the catchers and Boz with the pitchers, and they both do the same, vice versa.

So it's a good team. It's a good unit, and it works for us.

Q. You mentioned being in Josh's back pocket when you were younger. How much did you glean from that? Was it more you asking a lot of questions or was it observing? How did that whole dynamic work with you and him?

JON LESTER: It was more just observing. You know, by nature I'm a pretty quiet guy, so I just kind of sit back and take everything in. So I followed him around and kind of got used to his workouts and what he was doing. Took the stuff that I liked that he did and used that. The stuff I didn't like, I maybe altered it or got rid of it or whatever.

I think things now are so different for young guys, especially our team. The majority of guys are three years or less in service time. So I think for them to come in the clubhouse and feel comfortable is a lot easier than it was, say, 10 years ago when I got called up. You sat in your locker and you were quiet and basically speak when spoken to.

I just followed guys around and observed and watched and really tried to take in what I could from different guys. He was a guy that, for whatever reason, just kind of stuck with. I guess we spoke the same language when it came to pitching and what we were trying to do and understood different things. I like the physical side of the game at that time as far as the workouts and the preparation that way.

You look at a guy like Kyle, the information that this guy takes out there, I couldn't have handled that even at his age. That stuff didn't really start sticking for me until a couple of years ago.

Everybody's different. Everybody learns at a different pace and uses things at different points in their career. At that point in my career he was a really, really good influence on me.