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Oct. 6 Jon Lester pregame interview

October 6, 2017

Q. How different does it feel heading into Game 1 and not having to start, just getting to watch?JON LESTER: Yeah, it's nice. It is kind of nice, actually. You know, it's kind of different walking in and not having anything to do and not worry about anything. Took the

Q. How different does it feel heading into Game 1 and not having to start, just getting to watch?

JON LESTER: Yeah, it's nice. It is kind of nice, actually. You know, it's kind of different walking in and not having anything to do and not worry about anything. Took the late bus for the first time.

It's good. I mean, obviously it's not ideal. As a competitor, you always want to -- you work for these games. But at the same time, it's kind of nice to sit back and let other guys handle it.

Q. You've been pretty consistent all year talking about how this was going to be a different season from April on. So looking at it now, the road you guys took to get here, how do you think that's helped take you here and helped the mental and physical side of it?

JON LESTER: I don't know. I felt like our season was fine. We had a little bump in the road at the beginning of the season. I think that was kind of, I don't want to say, to be expected, but nobody really in that clubhouse was worried about it. We knew we could play better baseball. I think that was the biggest thing is we just early on this year, we beat ourselves more so than anything. We made mental errors and we made physical error that is just put us in holes. So once we cleaned that aspect of it up, we were fine. We got back to being us.

I think there's a reason why you play 162 games to get to this point. You have a whole other season to go now. I think the lessoned learned for us are based on last year, what we went through, being down, coming back against a really good team, two really good teams. And then obviously everyone obviously knows all the hoopla of Game 7.

I think that just prepares you for future experiences when you go through stuff like that. I don't think there's a lot of things that can happen in the course of however many more days or weeks we play that can really sneak up and surprise guys.

Q. This is one of the better lineups in the League that you'll face tomorrow. What are your thoughts on the Washington lineup?

JON LESTER: Yeah, like you said, it's a really, really strong lineup. I was talking to Dempster on the way over here, and I think the thing that guys forget sometimes, especially when you're pitching against a good lineup, is just like you get through the Harpers, the Murphies and the Zimmermans and you're like, okay, I've got a break. And then you look up and you've got Rendon, Wieters, so on, so forth.

You just have to get back to one pitch, one out at a time, one inning at a time and really try to hone in on that and not worry about who's up and just try to work on executing your pitches and being down. Eliminating damage is a huge thing against this lineup. We all know, obviously, they can hit the ball out of the ballpark at a high rate. So keep them on the ground and give our team a chance to field them and throw them out. Sounds simple, but it's a tough lineup and you've just got to go one by one, each inning.

Q. What is your club like over the last three years, getting ready for the playoffs? Is there some kind of reset button? Is there a looseness or a calmness that prevails over that room before it starts, or is there different methods for each guy that's in that room?

JON LESTER: I think different methods for each individual. Really, it's one of those deals, man, you've just got to play in the Postseason. You've got to get thrown in the fire too figure it out.

You know, some people say it's not different. It is different. It's a different atmosphere. From pitch one, this crowd is going to be going, and you don't have that during the regular season. You have the atmosphere and all the hoopla going on today. I'm sure there will be some cool people throwing out the first pitch, a cool person singing the National Anthem, flyovers, all that fun stuff, stuff you don't normally deal with in the regular season.

I think each individual handles it differently, and you've got to figure out what works for you. I just know from our clubhouse and being around these guys the last three years, you know, you could see the nervousness and the anxiety in 2015. Last year was more kind of like, we're not going to let that happen again and more of a calmness in the clubhouse.

This year, I feel like it's the same. Like I said, the more you play in these situations, the more you can kind of separate all the only stuff that's going along with it and just go and worry about what your job is that day.

Q. What did you learn about Schwarber and how he handled what he went through unexpectedly this year, and what do you think that shows about him?

JON LESTER: I mean, really, what we learned about Schwarber is what we already kind of knew from last year, yeah. It really didn't surprise me how he handled it. He handled it so well externally; around his teammates, he handled it like a pro, he did. You never knew walking into that clubhouse every day where his batting average was, where he was in the lineup, so forth and so on.

So that's probably the most impressive thing, how he handled last year, to carry into this year and struggling a little bit. Shows you what kind of guy he is, a team guy; he wants us to win. Doesn't matter about his personal things. I mean, obviously I know -- I've spent some time with him off the field and stuff, and it eats him up. He wants to do well. It's probably the first time in his entire life he's ever struggled.

Sometimes you have to go through that at this level to appreciate the good times. So we all know what kind of player he is and what kind of player he's going to be. Now it's just a matter of forgetting about it. We're all back at zero. I keep saying that and I keep harping on that but he's going to look up there tonight and see 0, and I think that will help. It helps a lot of guys mentally, especially when you have a bad year. Sometimes it can hurt you when you have a good year. You know, you like those dig-me numbers up there, and they are not there anymore.

It's a nice refresh button for a lot of guys, and I'm excited to see him carry that over to this Postseason.

Q. You had mentioned, you've got to learn about October, learn how to handle October. You said you have learned a lot. What do you think you've taken the most out of your Postseason experiences in the past, last year especially, that can help you now coming into this October?

JON LESTER: I think the biggest thing is just playing in different environments, you know. You know, you kind of get thrown in, or I got thrown in at a young age and didn't know what to expect and kind of just had to learn and figure it out. And you bounce around and you see different environments, and it's fun.

You know, you go to -- like in 2008, we played Tampa all year and nobody was there, and all of a sudden you show up and it's packed, all the way to the top, and it's a different feeling when you walk out on that field.

So to be able to learn how to kind of hone your senses in and forget about that, and just try to focus on what you're trying to do; I think it's just a process that you have to learn and go through and kind of figure out on your own.

Like I said earlier, everybody handles it differently. Everybody has to focus on different things to kind of get them locked in. Mine is my routine. I always fall back on my routine and try to -- try to do that, you know, every day, as best I can to get me ready to where I feel comfortable to go out there and pitch.

Q. The Nationals, or at least the talk in Washington, is all about how they have never won a Postseason series in the same way, I'm sure you guys heard 1908 just about every day last year. How much of that stuff actually seeps into the clubhouse to where guys talk about it, think about it, and it can affect them, and how much is just outside noise?

JON LESTER: I mean, I think in this day and age, there's not much that guys don't hear about, you know, with social media and MLB Network and ESPN and all this other stuff. Yeah, I'm sure it was in our heads. We all knew about it. It's hard to run away from it.

You know, the guys that signed here, that was the reason why we signed here was to break that curse; to win a World Series for the City of Chicago.

You know, on their side, I don't know if it's in their head. I mean, I know for us, every day, you heard about a goat or you heard about Bartman or you heard about Black Cat or 1908 or whatever else you heard about. Like I just got done saying, you've got to eliminate that stuff and go out and play the game. The game does not change.

In the Postseason, yeah, it probably speeds up. Like I said, you've got different atmospheres. Stadiums are packed; they are loud; it's fun. Once you step on that rubber, it's still 60 feet, 6 inches, and you still have to execute a pitch and you still have to have good at-bats and catch the ball and thrown it and run and do all that stuff. That's kind of how I've always looked at it, and you try to eliminate the goats and all that other stuff.

Q. I know in the past you've said that your arm feels better as the year goes on and you need like a hundred innings or so to feel that way. Is this year still the same?

JON LESTER: Obviously not (laughter).

I mean, usually in a normal season, yes, that's the case is it kind of takes me awhile to get going. Once I get going, usually get to that 100-inning mark and it kind of just goes from there. You kind of cruise from there.

Like I said, you have ups and downs and bumps along the way that you have to maintain and deal with. Obviously this year was different. We had a different workload last year, and tried to carry that over into this year. As you get older, it doesn't quite work like it used to when it was 24, 25.

You have to change your program sometimes. Sometimes you have to learn on the fly and figure out how to get back to being healthy all year and throwing that 200-inning mark. That's something I'm not worried about now. I've got to worry about this. But this off-season, we'll hit it again and be ready to go next spring and hopefully it won't be a problem next year.

Q. There is a pitcher on either side dealing with a hamstring issue. Is that a particularly challenging thing to deal with for a pitcher?

JON LESTER: I don't know. Knock on wood, I've never had any hamstring issues. So I know, you know, if you look at position players, when you hear the word hamstring, it's usually not good. They are usually out for awhile.

I think -- I don't know what leg Strasburg's hamstring -- is it right leg or left leg? Right? So same as Jake. So I don't know how that affects the push-off. They are both kind of, as far as effort going down the mound, they get after it pretty good.

So I don't know how that affects them. I know Jake has said some things here and there about it and how he's had to kind of maybe manipulate it a little bit to get through some things. But like I said, I've never had that problem, so I don't -- I can't specifically speak about that.