Q. Jon, you were a young man when you pitched in the World Series in 2007. Do you now have an appreciation for how hard it is to get back to that level and how special it is to be in these big games?
JON LESTER: Yeah, absolutely. I think going through what we went through the past couple of years, obviously makes even getting to the playoffs, makes you appreciate that.
So obviously with everything that happened, you don't take it for granted. And I'm just fortunate enough to be back now, and hopefully give our team a good position tomorrow to succeed and pitch well.
Q. Last time we saw you, you were leaving Baltimore to go see your baby get born. How has everything been in your life the last week or so?
JON LESTER: Actually it's been good. Smooth transition. Everything went great on Sunday. He's been great. Sleeping and I'm sleeping, mom is sleeping. So everybody is happy.
Q. What did John Farrell bring to this team this year? This was his first year in and you guys had a pretty incredible turnaround. I'm curious what he brought to the formula, what kind of stamp did he put on the team?
JON LESTER: I think we always go back to that first day of Spring Training, where we had our meeting, and just the tone that he set of what he expected from us. And obviously we all know what we need to do individually to succeed and go about our routines and all of that. But when you have somebody of an authority figure stand up and say, this is what I want, this is what I expect, now you guys go do it, you know, everybody in the room kind of looks around and goes, Okay, now we have a plan. We have a path of what we need to do.
And I think from that day forward, everybody took that and ran with it. We've got a good group of guys, good group of baseball guys that understand day in and day out what they need to do to succeed. And from there I think we kind of took it and ran with it. And John and the coaching staff has done a great job of guiding us through a couple of slumps through the season. But everybody is prepared, everybody is ready to go from day 1, and I think that showed.
Q. Kind of along those same lines, I know you guys give a lot of credit to Juan (Nieves) and the help he's given to the staff. What has John Farrell done for you and the success of the pitching staff as a whole?
JON LESTER: I mean, I think early on he helped with the transition from Juan. I think that was really it. He obviously knew me, Buck (Buchholz) and Lack, and a little bit of Douby (Doubront). And I think that just helped Juan feel more comfortable with us. And the quicker we were able to kind of develop that relationship and figure out what worked for us and what he could say to kind of get us back on track, like I said, just made that transition for Juan that much easier.
But really from day one John has kind of stayed out of the way as far as on a pitching side. We've had a couple of little moments here and there where Juan, I'm sure, has talked to him and I've talked to John and we've all three sat in the same room and Buck has done the same thing. But for the most part John has been the manager and Juan has been the pitching coach. And I think that's helped Juan as well as far as feel comfortable in his job and what he needed to do.
Q. Can you give us a little breakdown of the Rays and what will be some of the keys for you in pitching against them?
JON LESTER: Obviously they're playing pretty good baseball right now. They've won three very important games for themselves.
Really it's the same stuff. It wouldn't have mattered if it was the Rays or Cleveland or Texas or whatever. It comes down to you figure out your game plan against them, whatever it may be, and you need to go out and try to execute your pitches. Be down in the zone, especially here at Fenway. With a right handed lineup you've got to be down in the zone. You can't let the Monster play a factor or anything like that. You're aren't worried about shadows or anything. You just have to execute pitches, try to keep the guys within reach, especially with their pitching staff. We know what kind of caliber pitching staff they have. And that's really it. You've got to keep them within reach. We'll score some runs, and hopefully be on top at the end.
Q. To be out of the playoffs the last three years, how hard was that when October rolled around and things kind of came to a dead stop? What does it mean for you to be Game 1 starter tomorrow in the sense of anticipation that comes with that?
JON LESTER: Well, I think every year was a little different. 2010 we got beat up so much just with injuries and just kind of bad luck with a lot of things that was kind of I don't know, to be expected or what. But we played good baseball. Obviously 2011 speaks for itself. That one left a lot of bitter taste in guy's mouth. And obviously last year was just horrendous all the way around.
I know for myself I went home, usually I watch the playoffs if I'm at home or wherever I'm at, and didn't watch a game, turned it off, tried to kind of get my brain back on track. And to now be back to where we're at, not only be back, but to have the season that we did, you know, was obviously very gratifying for all of us in that clubhouse.
But to be named Game 1 starter, especially after last year, to be named Opening Day starter, you know, big honor, obviously, very excited, especially I always say for this organization with the history that goes along with it, the guys that have gotten that honor in the past. You know, it's a big honor for me to have my name up there with those guys. And like I would say, I can go out and bust my butt and give the team the best chance to win tomorrow and set the tone for the other starters.
Q. You came into camp with a lot of determination, you seemed to turn around or just to have a strong season this year. Do you have a sense of satisfaction as you sit there ready for Game 1? And also how much do you feel there's still a lot of work for you to do to yourself and this team to get where you want to get to?
JON LESTER: Yeah, absolutely. I can't sit here and go back to the season and reflect on the season yet. It's not over. I feel like we've still got a lot of work to go. When we're packing our bags and heading home, I'll take those couple of weeks or week or whatever it is to reflect on it. And then I could probably better answer that question. But right now I'm focused on tomorrow and the task at hand. And like I said, we'll reflect on the season when it's all said and done.
Q. As bitter as last year was for you and for the team, you did have better success toward the end than earlier on. Was there any springboard momentum that you could have taken from that, from last year?
JON LESTER: Yeah, I mean obviously I think the things that we did, the mechanical things that we changed, right around the All Star break last year obviously put me in a better position this year going into Spring Training. Really going into the off season, better frame of mind, better understanding of where I was at. So that put me in a good place when I started my throwing program this last off season.
And then to carry that over to Spring Training, have John and Juan and those guys to sit there and bounce ideas off of, and really kind of solidify what we worked on the year before, you know, just put me in a good position to start the year. And obviously very happy with how it turned out, because it's a hard thing to do when you're in the middle of a season to kind of overhaul things and buy into it. I went through some bumps there in the month of July, but after that I threw the ball more like myself and had better results.
Q. You've said this year was the most fun you've had playing with this team. You've been on some very good teams, world championship team, but it was a button down approach, business like approach here. This team obviously a little different than that. Can you talk about that looseness in the clubhouse and compare what it's been like with this group of guys compared to some teams in the past.
JON LESTER: I think the biggest difference is, I didn't get to spend from start to finish with the '07 team. I was up and down little bit. When I was here, I got the impression of more like you said, the button down, like this is our job, this is what we're doing day in and day out, you just keep going, this is our goal.
There was some fun along the way. But I feel like the teams in the past were kind of like that same approach. Hey, we've got another game. Let's win another game. Let's move on. Let's go on to the next one.
This team it's a complete opposite of anything I've been around. From the moment you walk in, guys were laughing, cutting up. Nobody is safe in the clubhouse as far as getting yelled at. It doesn't matter if you're 16 years in or if you've got one day. Everybody is having fun. And then when the time comes for 7:00 to roll around, you know, guys go out there and they do what they need to do and they're prepared and they play hard. And the guys that are on the bench are keeping those guys loose and having fun doing it.
It's been a joy to be around. I never thought just being around this market for a couple of years, I never thought you could actually do that here. And it's a pleasant surprise. And hopefully we can continue to carry it over for the remaining time that I'm here, the other guys are here and really just have fun playing the game.
Q. You've obviously pitched Game 1's before. What's that atmosphere like? What's that challenge like? How much are you looking forward doing it at home this time?
JON LESTER: Yeah, so this will be my first at home, Game 1, so that will be exciting, be obviously electric tomorrow night or tomorrow afternoon. There's nothing like playoff atmosphere. You can't duplicate it. You can't describe it. It's just a different beast when you step out on that mound. You know the other team is more focused; they're ready to go. You know you have to step up your game a little bit and be more focused than the other guy. There's really nothing like it.
We've talked about it in the clubhouse, we've tried to tell some of these young guys that will be on the roster and getting their first experience. It's just something you have to go through to understand, and learn how to control your emotions. And I'm sure it will be the exact same tomorrow, and hopefully have a lot of fun doing it.
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