FORT MYERS, Fla. ó Jon Lester can be a difficult guy to interview at times. He's hard on himself and that comes across in his answers. It's part of what makes him such a good pitcher.
But when Lester did his turn with the media today, he was downright quotable and seemed to enjoy himself.
There will be a story in the Globe tomorrow, But here's a little taste of what he had to say:
On what he want to work on this spring: "Walks. Thatís the main thing. Too many free passes last year; too many long innings; too many two-out walks that add 10, 12 extra pitches that arenít needed. Thatís an extra inning, thatís an extra arm out of the bullpen.Ē
(Lester walked 83 last year, 17 more than any previous season. He averaged 3.6 walks per nine innings, well above the 2.8 he averaged in 2008 and í09.)
ďI think itís more or less mental,Ē Lester said. ďSometimes you get two quick outs and you think, ĎOh, Iím out of this inning.í Youíre really not. Thatís the main thing, working on that mental focus on every pitch, every hitter and not worrying about how many outs there are.Ē
On his tendency to start the season slow (Lester is 3-6, 4.76 before May 1): "It is what it is. In the end of the season it all comes out in the wash. Weíve tinkered with different things down here. You know what? Iím just going to get ready for April. Whatever happens, happens. Iím going to try and put myself in the best position to win every game I pitch.
"Itís something Iím not worried about any more. I know Iím going to get on a roll. I know Iím going to pitch well eventually. The earlier I can do it, great. If I canít, Iím still going to go out there and compete and try to win and give you what Iíve got.Ē
On having Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury in the same outfield: "I don't imagine there will be a lot of fly balls that hit the grass out there."
On whether there are more expectations this season: "Don't y'all expect a lot from us every year? It's the same thing every year coming in. It never changes ever since I've been here. The expectations have always been high. Since '04, people expect you to win the World Series, I think that's fun. I think it adds that extra intensity you need."