FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grim. Glum. Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester last year looked like a 50-year-old coal miner who was falling behind on his child-support payments. He was joyless and angry. He was Ralph Nader. He was Bill Belichick. Lester was the personification of abject unhappiness.What's a Shank column about the Red Sox without a gratuitous mention of Bill Belichick?
He looked like Nomar Garciaparra during his final days at Fenway in 2004. He looked like a guy who was “Bostoned out.’’ Lester went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA for the last-place Red Sox. He hated pitching for Bobby Valentine, a hideous skipper who left him on the mound to take an 11-run beating against the Blue Jays at Fenway in July. Lester looked like he’d rather be a scuba diver for Roto-Rooter.Without a hint of irony, Shank then drops this one on Lester:
“There’s a little bit of a chip there,’’ Lester acknowledged Wednesday afternoon after the Sox’ second official workout for pitchers and catchers. “I want to prove that last year was a fluke and not have it happen again.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of talking about last year. You can just see it in some guys. We’ve never had a season like that. We’ve never got our ass kicked that bad. It’s frustrating and it’s humbling. Nobody wants to be that team.
“It was miserable.’’
Are you happy playing baseball in Boston?
“I love baseball,’’ Lester answered. “I love Boston. People don’t see me other than the fifth day and when I’m out there, but I’m not out there to kid around. I’m not out there to joke around with hitters.
“At the same time, I’m having fun. It may not look like it, but I’m having fun. I love to pitch, I love everything that there is to pitching. I take everything I do very serious. I want my game to go the way it should be. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be [upset].’’
Is he Bostoned out?So, the columnist arguably the most responsible for contributing to an athlete's feeling of being 'Bostoned out', asks that question of Jon Lester with a straight face? Who said irony is dead?
“Yeah, sometimes,’’ he said. “Sometimes I want to strangle myself. It can be intimidating, especially when you have seasons like last year. It’s tough. You know [you’re bad] and your teammates are trying to pick you up and everybody else knows [you’re bad] and you’re trying to break even on the whole deal. You try to live with it and move on.
“If you can play in Boston and survive and do good, I think you can play anywhere.’’