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Gresh & Zo: Lester’s Burden Of Expectations

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Red Sox starter Jon Lester reacts after giving up a three-run home run to former teammate Kevin Youkilis. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Red Sox starter Jon Lester reacts after giving up a three-run home run to former teammate Kevin Youkilis. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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Gresh and Zo kick off Thursday’s show discussing comments Jon Lester made about the “burden” of expectations he faces, and whether he is happy in Boston.

“You think I’m happy right now?” Lester told ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes. “You think I like coming to the park with almost a 5 ERA (4.80) next to my name, with a 5-7 record? I mean, who would be happy?”

“Am I happy in Boston? Yeah, I’ve got a house here, my family loves it here, I love taking my kid [son Hudson] here. That’s two different things,” he said of being happy off the field and happy with her performance on it. “If I’m sitting right now with David Price numbers and said I was not happy, then yeah, maybe it’s about Boston. But who in this clubhouse is happy with losing?”

Lester also commented on expectations that come along with setting the bar too high.

“You come up here,” Lester said, “and you say, ‘I’m a part of the Red Sox organization, the Red Sox. It’s a tough place to play, but it’s all about baseball, so let’s go out and play and see what happens.’ Then a couple of years later you have expectations. You have people that rely on you to do the same thing every year that you did the year before.

“Then it becomes a little tougher. Then you have to figure out who you are as a person, figure out who you are as a man: Am I this person or that person? I know looking back at this year, I’m not this person. This isn’t me as a pitcher. I stink, but I’ve got to keep working to figure out what’s going to change it. I’ve got to keep working.”

“Yeah, we get paid a lot of money. I understand that. But just because we get paid a lot of money doesn’t mean we don’t care,” he said. “This kills me. It’s tough. I hate losing. I hate getting beat. I’m not used to it. It’s something I’ve never done in my life. Maybe this is a year that’s going to strengthen me and make me a better pitcher in the future.”

Gresh and Zo responded to the comments, and aren’t confident Lester has what it takes to be an ace.

“There just seems to be so much focus on everything other than baseball, and that’s what drives me nuts,” said Gresh. “The accountability is part of playing here, no doubt, but I don’t care if you play in Kansas City… It’s in every market. You don’t think Evan Longoria hears about it in Tampa?”

“(Lester) got 5-years, $30 million in 2008. That alone means the organization thinks you are at a certain level as a pitcher. We as media and fans didn’t put it on this guy,” said Gresh. “For him to turnaround and complain about expectations, that’s not a number-one starter.”

“Rajon Rondo made a statement, and flat out said he was the best point guard in the NBA. Good, believe that,” said Zolak. “You want a guy to have that type of attitude. But when do we rip Rajon Rondo? When he puts up zero in a game for first place against Philly… because he sets the bar by his play.”

“I don’t think we’ve had one person call this station screaming ‘why hasn’t Lester won 20-games, or why isn’t he Roy Halladay,’” said Gresh. “Pedro Martinez would never say anything like this. Curt Schilling, as a number-one, would never say anything about this.”

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