|Jon Lester shows he’s ready to be the leader of the Red Sox staff||02.19.12 at 2:29 pm ET|
FORT MYERS — It wasn’t so much an apology as it was an admission.
Jon Lester climbed up on the green park bench in front of the new Red Sox spring training clubhouse and acted like a pitcher who has learned from his mistakes and is ready to lead by example.
“I think the biggest thing is I’m ready to move on from it,” Lester said. “I’ve learned from it. It’s something I’m not proud of. The biggest thing is you learn from your mistakes,” Lester said of the allegations of staying in the clubhouse and eating fried chicken and drinking beers during games. “I’m looking forward to starting new this year and being [a] leader. Just being a better teammate, being on the bench.”
Being a better teammate. Lester’s words spoke volumes Sunday.
He doing all the things on the outside to show he’s ready to lead the staff, like leading workouts when they’re not even required.
“I think you can kind of tell,” Lester said. “You have a lot of guys out here and we’re not really supposed to be here today. It’s “report” day. You’re just supposed to be in town and kind of hanging out. You have have guys throwing bullpens and guys working hard. I’ve been down here for two weeks. It seems like we’ve been running a camp without supervision for the past two weeks. I think that’s a big sign that people want to work and want to get better and show we are a very good team.”
Lester was fully aware Sunday that the images and bad feelings remain in the hearts and minds of Red Sox fans. But he also wanted to bring those same fans inside the Red Sox clubhouse just a little in order to provide valuable perspective.
“The starting pitchers do have a lot of stuff to do during the game that we don’t get to before the game because position players are the priority. If we’re not pitching, we let them go first and we come in after the game starts and do some of the stuff we need to do. We’re not going to be out there all nine innings but we’re going to be out there more, supporting our teammates.”
Of course, there’s another side of leadership – speaking to the fans. Lester knows full well that many Sox fans are still angry and harbor bad feelings about the team after the way 2011 ended.
“There should be,” Lester said. “We didn’t play very good. With all the other stuff added on top of that, it’s obviously going to make it worse. I don’t blame them for being mad. We didn’t play good. We stunk. I stunk. I take complete responsibility for it. With that being said, we’ve all learned from it. We’ve all moved on. I’m sure that’s going to be a big theme this spring for a lot of guys.
“We’re moving on, we’re looking forward to 2012. I think that desire to really compete and really win and show the fans we do actually care. I think a lot of them think we don’t care, we’re just a bunch of babies and whatever. We do care. We want to win. We want to [get] back to the playoffs and hopefully [bring] a World Series back to this town again and show these fans that we are a good team.”
Lester knows the team does have a responsiblity of showing the fans that the players do care about winning them back and making up for last year.
“I hope they don’t have a different perception of me,” he said. “I’m still the same guy, still the same person I was five years ago. I care a lot about this team, I care a lot about my job. I hope fans realize that had nothing to do with what happened on the field. What happened on the field, happened on the field. I stunk, we stunk. We’re looking forward to proving people wrong. Last year, everybody wanted to give us the World Series title the first day and this year, I think we come in as underdogs. I think that’s going to be fun. It’s going to be fun to see how guys react and we go about our business.
“It’s one of those things I don’t think you’ll ever really forget. In baseball, it seems like every year there something you’ve never seen before. That was one thing I’ve never really seen. Now that it’s over and we’re here, and it’s a new season, a new start, I’m kind of glad a lot of these guys went through it. I’m glad I went through it. It’s going to make us better, it’s going to make us stronger to where if we get in a position like that we can reflect back on last year and September and realize we can get through this and play better.”
As for conditioning, Lester joined Josh Beckett in adamantly maintaining workouts between starts had nothing to do with the team’s 7-20 September.
“For myself, I don’t,” Lester said. “I can’t speak for everybody because I don’t follow everybody around and see what they do on a day-to-day basis. I know the starting staff I see every day in the weight room. We all have the same routine. We’re all doing the same things, just on different days. I know for myself, my workouts didn’t change. I don’t think that was a problem. And from what I saw, I didn’t think it was a problem. But that’s just my opinion.”
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