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Jon Lester talks contract (again): ‘If I use that as motivation, I’ve got problems’

03.30.14 at 4:40 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — While some of the questions directed at Jon Lester Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards focused on the lefty making his fourth straight Opening Day start on Monday, there continued to be a line of inquiry having to do with Lester’€™s contract status.

Here are Lester’€™s responses to all contract-related conversation.

On if it’s difficult to not think about: “I wouldn’t say completely leave your mind. I mean, it’€™s kind of like having the elephant in the room — we all know the circumstances that are there this year. I would like to think I’€™m good about dealing with outside things. When I’€™m at the park I’€™m thinking about what I need to do that day to get better and worry about the other stuff when I’€™m done. It is what it is, I can’€™t change it, it’€™s something that’€™s going to be there and there are going to be questions, and I’€™ll have to give answers but it’€™s something we’€™ll deal with along the way.”

On comparisons to Max Scherzer‘€™s situation: “Different circumstances. I feel like they kind of put an exclamation point on that, they said, ‘Hey I’€™m going to free agency’ — I haven’€™t said that, I haven’€™t implied that to Ben [Cherington], or John [Henry] or Larry [Lucchino], any of those guys, I think it’€™s a little bit different situation. Like I said, you guys asked me if I would accept that deal. Every situation is different, every negotiation is different, every person is different, so until it’€™s there in front of you with a pen to sign it, or not presented to you and you have to go the other way, then like I said, we’€™ll deal with that when it comes.”

On if the contract will be motivation: “If I use that for motivation, I’ve got problems. That’€™s not what motivates me to go out and pitch and get better. Money has never driven me, I love baseball, I love to play, so what drives me is to be the best pitcher I can and go out and help my team win.”

On if it will be an issue as the season progresses: “To really be honest, nothing’€™s changed. It goes back to what I said earlier about worrying about the next start. I’€™m focused on tomorrow, and five days from that, worry about that one. That’€™s the way I’ve always tried to live my career. If I start thinking about the All-Star break, ‘Maybe we’€™ll start talking again,’ or start worrying about the offseason and possibly being a free agent — like I said, I’€™m worried about the wrong things. That’€™s kind of how I try to live my life: What do I have to do today? The next day comes, what do I have to do today. I think if you take that approach, at least for me, that’€™s the way I think. I’€™m a very black and white thinker. That works. That’€™s the way I approached last year and every other year and that’€™s the way I’€™m going to approach this year.’€™’€™

On how things were left with the Red Sox: “I think you can take that really any way you want to. Is it disappointing? Sure. Is it disappointing for them? Probably. But that’€™s just negotiation. Like I’ve said before, and Ben, I’€™m sure he’€™ll say the same thing. It’€™s not like we’€™re hammering our heads against each other. We’€™re in a good place on both sides. Both sides have been very reasonable about what we’ve been talking about. There’€™s no animosity on my side towards them, I would hope the same comes from them. Yes, disappointed it didn’t get done, but we all have to be realistic about it and understand that it’€™s a process and that it’€™s going to take some time. I know that, they know that, and like I said before the other day when Ben made the comments about it, it was more of a joint thing — we talked about it the day before and agreed upon what should be said on both sides. We’€™re all in a good place. We’€™ll see what happens. Let those guys deal with it, and I’€™ll play baseball.”

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