Jon Lester was in town today, making two appearances on behalf of People’s United Bank. I caught up with him this evening and we sat down for a few minutes.
The big lefty is a heck of a pitcher, obviously. But he’s usually not much for interviews, keeping his answers short and to the point. But on a cold day in a back office at a bank, Lester was pretty forthcoming in an exclusive interview.
He said he took some extra time off this winter, letting his body rest before he returned to the gym. Over the last three seasons, counting the postseason, Lester has thrown 654.1 innings and made 103 starts.
“Just wear and tear. The past three years have been long seasons for me,” Lester said. “Last year, when I started working out, I was still battling some things. This year I started fresh. It has been good.”
Lester then smiled a bit.
“Mentally and physically, I’m preparing for the World Series,” he said. “I’m doing extra right now to make sure my body holds up for late October. You look at the kind of team we have and I don’t see why can’t get there.”
Lester expected the Red Sox to sign either Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth. Ending up with Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Bobby Jenks was beyond what he imagined was possible. He’s also high on getting Dan Wheeler.
“To get actually four guys, that’s going to make our team more balanced offensively and with the pitching,” he said. “Now we have (relievers), if a starter gets in trouble in the sixth inning, who can fill that void. To me, Wheeler is one of the best set-up men in the game. He’s going to be big for us, too.
“Gonzalez is a big bat for us. But the main thing for me is that we don’t have to worry about Crawford any more. That’s a big weight off our shoulders. A guy like that changes a lot of games. Now that he’s on our side, we can get rid of those scouting reports and not worry about it.”
Lester turned 27 earlier this month. He won 19 games last year, made the All-Star team for the first time and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. He’s the ace of the staff whether he starts on Opening Day or not and he’s signed through 2013. Life is good.
Lester also has a 6-month-old son, Hudson. This offseason, he said, was all about family. His wife, Farrah, and son will travel with him to spring training and then up to Boston.
“It’s hard, adjusting your routine,” he said. “All of a sudden, you have a person you’re responsible for. But it’s fun and we love it. But it’s not going to change me as a pitcher. I’ll adjust and I’ll be as focused as I always am.”
The goal, Lester said, is to win another title. For him, 2007 seems like a lifetime ago.
“In ’07 I didn’t know any better,” he said. “I was just happy to be back playing baseball. In ’08, I knew that was our goal and it was the same the last two years. But look at our team now. We had a good year last year but we didn’t have a great year. Because of the injuries a lot of guys had time off. I think a lot of guys will have a chip on their shoulder.
“There’s a lot to prove in our clubhouse. That can take you a long way as a team.”
Check out the Globe tomorrow for more from Jon.