May 2, 2017

Lester: It Took Many Years To Feel Comfortable With Boston Media

Everyone says that playing baseball in Boston and dealing with the local sports media is tougher, or at the very least "different", than it is in any other city.

This has generally seemed like some cliche the Boston media has perpetuated to make themselves appear more ruthless and powerful, but then you read the blunt comments of someone like Jon Lester, longtime Red Sox pitcher and current Cubs starter, and you think that perhaps there is some truth to it after all.

Over the past weekend, Lester told Rob Bradford (WEEI) that even though he played nearly nine seasons with the Red Sox, he truly didn't get a complete handle on the media until his second-to-last year in Boston.
"It took me probably until probably the end of '13 to really start feeling comfortable with really answering questions," Lester said. "That's, what, seven or eight years? Then '14 rolled around and you had a whole new bag of Cracker Jacks to deal with. That's when I just kind of said, '[Expletive] it. Here. I'll be as candid as I can with you guys.'

"It took me seven years, and I was there since 2002 [when he was drafted], to really feel comfortable around it, navigating who I could talk to and who I couldn't talk to. Who I could say certain things to and who I couldn't. Stuff like that. You're throwing a guy like David Price in there with this huge deal and he's trying to navigate his way through it too. It's tough."
Bradford notes that Price seems like a prime example of "a player whose approach often butts heads with the local landscape". (One example is here.)
"I saw the stuff he tweeted out. Hey, threw a bullpen, threw all my pitches, felt great. If you guys have any more questions ask Manager John. Probably innocent. Off day. Maybe he's just trying to get out there. But ... [expletive] storm," Lester said.

"I guarantee you if you asked David before you did it, he's probably like, 'I want to get out of here. I want to do my stuff, get out and not answer any questions. Have the manager do it and I'll tweet something out.' Innocent enough, and he's getting crushed. He's probably thinking, 'I can't do anything right.' That's the hard part, because it's easy when you're pitching well. The ones that were hard were the ones where you're sitting there and knowing I don't have the answers. It's hard to navigate through that. I don't know if they fully understand it."
Lester explained that someone like Curt Schilling (who he played alongside for two seasons)
read everything that was written every day, whether he was in it or not. And he had answers for it every day, whether you liked the answers or not, whatever. You have guys who can do that and still go out and perform. And then you have guys who read one little thing and they're like, 'Screw you, I'm out.' ...

"It's every day," Lester said. "It's a mental grind. It's a grind every day, where you have to be up on your information and have the knowledge of what's going in the clubhouse to be ready. Because if you walk in and you get blind-sided by a story then you're [expletive]. I think sometimes they do their research on their guys and they go, 'He can handle it.' And then you throw them in. You don't know if they can handle it until you're here."
Looking at the current Red Sox roster, Lester said:
"I feel what is hard for guys is now they don't have a lot of veteran guys over there that have been here for a long time and have dealt with the ups and downs. Guys like Mookie and Jackie are so young and they really haven't been through it. Some of them have been through some personal things. But the older guys are guys like Porcello, Price and Sale, but those guys haven't been here so it's not like you can lean on them. And that's not their fault. But they're new and they're trying to figure it out just like the young guys."

No comments: