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BOSTON (CBS) – Jon Lester simply wants to clear the air.
The Red Sox lefty spoke with WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche from his home in Georgia, and wanted to make sure Red Sox fans understand he and his fellow pitchers meant no disrespect with their in-game activities.
“It’s something that I think got blown out of proportion,” Lester said of the story he, Josh Beckett, and John Lackey would drink in the clubhouse during games. “It was something small that turned into something big. No matter what I say today, people probably aren’t going to believe me, but it’s one of those deals we’d go up there in the ninth inning, tie game, have a couple ‘rally beers’ and come back down to the bench. Or during the game we’re sitting up there and we have a beer every once in a while.”
Lester On Sox Clubhouse
Lester, speaking for Beckett and Lackey as well, wanted to assure fans that it was not a “frat house” mentality in the clubhouse.
“There was very minimal beer. Like I said it’d be once in a blue moon, we’d all be upstairs watching the game on TV. I think there’s also been a video game reference, there was no video games being played,” he said.
“When we’re in the clubhouse, we’re either A, doing the stuff we need to do as far as our arm stuff or treatment as far as icing or stemming or laser. We’re getting our massage in between starts that we all get. Or we’re sitting upstairs watching the game on TV,” said Lester. “We’re always in tune to the game; we always know what’s going on. It’d be once in a blue moon there’d be a beer drank.”
“We average four-hour games; it wasn’t a four-hour drink-fest. It was a five-minute ordeal, we’d have a beer,” he said. “It wasn’t third inning ‘let’s go drink a six-pack.’ It was a once in a while occurrence.”
“One of the nights I can tell you it was a Tampa night we’re we had an ESPN game. We played a 16 inning game. It was the 12th inning, ‘we have to change this, let’s go do a rally beer.’ We came out and didn’t score a run, and that was the end of it. It’s not a six-pack-a-night deal. It was once in a blue moon.”
He also said the eating of fried chicken in the clubhouse only occurred a few times during the season.
“The thing is, us having the occasional beer or the occasional fried chicken, does not effect the way we play,” said Lester. “You’re talking about four guys that have nothing to do with the game that night. We’re eating a piece of friend chicken. I understand what people are saying, it looks bad. But this is the stuff, and it sounds like an excuse, this is the stuff that goes on in clubhouses around the league.”
“Hopefully we aren’t written, as some people would say, as the worst three pitchers in Red Sox history, and we can hopefully move on and the fans can appreciate the fact that we have owned up to it and we admit that we did it and we’re sorry for it.”
“This isn’t uncommon,” Lester said of other teams have players drinking beer in the clubhouse. “This isn’t something we just invented… I’m trying to be the good guy today by getting this out and the open and letting people hear it. I guess you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
“This isn’t something new. I’ve seen people do it, I’ve done it, the people who have played here have done it,” he said of past Red Sox teams.
Lester also took the chance to respond to Curt Schilling, who questioned the Red Sox players on the 98.5 The Sports Hub airwaves on Monday.
“As much as people get on the radio up there and like to bash people now that they’re retired, I’d like to see him look at himself in the mirror and say he’s never partaken in anything that shouldn’t have been done in the clubhouse,” said Lester.
Schilling on Felger & Mazz: Red Sox Quit On Each Other
The Red Sox left also added the trio of pitchers never meant any disrespect to former manager Terry Francona by ducking out for a “rally beer.”
“It’d be one thing if we were up there getting hammered or screwing off, playing video games or not paying attention to what was going on. That was not the case at all. It was not a frat house. I don’t know how to describe it. If we thought it was disrespecting our team, or be a major issue, it never would have been done.”
Lester On Tito, Moving On
“Tito was a great man. He was a great manager. He did a lot for me and my family off the field, more importantly than on the field. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him for what he did for this organization.”
Lester also cleared the air on comments he made in Monday’s Boston Globe about Francona’s managerial approach, which some took as Francona did not discipline the Red Sox enough.
In the Globe, Lester said: There comes a time when your authority is no longer there. You kind of run your course. People knew how Tito was and we pushed the envelope with it. We never had rules, we never had that iron-fist mentality. If you screwed up, he called you on it. That was how it worked.
“What I said earlier was, yeah our clubhouse was very lax and that was a positive thing that Tito brought. The responsibility that you are your own authority, and that’s how our clubhouse was run and we were supposed to police it ourselves,” said Lester. “As a group we didn’t do a good job with a lax clubhouse. It had nothing to do with Tito.”
“I’m sad to see him go,” he said of Francona. “With that being said, like he said, I didn’t see it, but guys didn’t respond to him and he felt he needed to move on to something better for him. And I respect that and everybody has to make those decisions sometimes.”
The bottom line was Lester wants to move on, and make sure this 2010 not a distraction next season.
“The biggest thing is what people need to understand that everyone in that clubhouse, myself, Josh, Lackey, we all care. We all want to win. We all do the things that we need to between starts we need to do to prepare for every five days. Not one time did one of us give up this year. Not one time did we throw in the towel and say ‘we’re done, we don’t care, we’re going to drink beer, we don’t give a (expletive deleted).’ That’s not the case.”
“If the Boston people allow us to be good, allow us to forget about this incident, we will prove to them we are those people that we can bring another World Series back.”
“We want to move on from this and we want to be a positive figure in Boston.”