Lester: Drinking was the wrong thing to do

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Lester: Drinking was the wrong thing to do

On Monday, Jon Lester spoke to The Boston Globe about drinking in the clubhouse, fried chicken and how Terry Francona's time had run its course in Boston.

On drinking and eating in the clubhouse during games:
"There's a perception out there that we were up there getting hammered and that wasn't the case," Lester told The Globe. "Was it a bad habit? Yes. I should have been on the bench more than I was. But we just played bad baseball as a team in September. We stunk. To be honest, we were doing the same things all season when we had the best record in baseball."

"It was a ninth-inning rally beer," said Lester, who indicated that the drinking in the clubhouse was only done by starting pitchers not pitching that day. "We probably ordered chicken from Popeye's like once a month. That happened. But that's not the reason we lost."

Lester blamed strange travel schedules, not fried chicken, for what he considers to be minimal weight gain, explaining this is typical for pitchers during the season.

"It's probably because of how we eat," he said. "We have some crazy hours with the travel and you get in at 4 a.m. and you get room service or something quick. But unless your body fat is going up 10 percent or something like that, you don't have a problem."

Lester said he did not have permission to speak for Josh Beckett and John Lackey, but needed to support them. "Consider us a unit when it comes to these accusations," he said of his fellow starters. "We either fall together or rise above it all together whether they like it or not. Things got magnified because we lost and sources started telling people what happened, which has me upset because if you're going to say something, be a man to put your name to it. But we're not bad people and we're not a bad group of guys."

"Are there things I regret? Sure there are. But nothing happened that had me unprepared to pitch. I don't blame people for wanting answers because we had a hell of a team and we lost. You can't have a team that gets paid like we get paid and loses and not expect people to want answers."

On the perceived negative influence from Beckett:
"I'm not a follower. I'm a grown-ass man. I made my decisions. He wasn't twisting my arm like I was in high school," he said. "Did I try to emulate him as a pitcher when I was younger? Sure I did because what he does works. Now, over time, I've tweaked what I do because that's what works for me."

Lester added, "as far as decisions, he doesn't make them for me. I'm who I am because of my wife and my mom and dad. Not Josh."

On Francona's departure:
"I love Tito and he did a great job for us when he was here. On a personal level I was more than grateful for what he did for me and my family," Lester said. "But 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."

"I never saw guys purposely breaking rules or doing the wrong thing in front of him and rubbing it in his face. But this particular team probably needed more structure."

On the team's need for leadership:
"We need that good veteran presence," Lester said, regarding high-character players like Alex Cora, Eric Hinske, and Sean Casey. "If you have somebody like that, it makes everybody better. Everybody is accountable and we have plenty of people to look up to. That's not the problem. But we have a lot of guys who are kind of middle-aged in terms of their careers. Sometimes you need veteran guys who know their roles and can reach out to everybody."

Update: Lester also spoke with the Providence Journal on Monday. He reaffirmed his position that the beer and fried chicken stories were exaggerated, again using the term "rally beer" and saying the pitchers consumed fried chicken "maybe three times."

More on Francona:
"Tito has been great to me and great to my family, and I've thanked him many times for what he's done for me off the field more than on the field," Lester said of his former manager. "But there comes a time, like in any business in the world that's run by somebody, that you need to step back and let a fresh face step in. Tito got burnt out. Eight years in Boston, it's a tough place to be a manager or be a player . . . He was ready to go.

"The really good thing about Tito is that he keeps everything in-house so well," he added. "I've been in his office a couple of times when he's needed to kick me in the rear end to get me going or tell me I need to quit bitching about things and move on and start pitching better. But nobody would ever know that because he does it in his office. It's just you and him or you and him and the pitching coach. I didn't have any issues with that stuff this year."

On the unity of the rotation:
Regarding Beckett and Lackey, Lester told the Journal, "those two guys are two of our bigger leaders on the team. If you get rid of those two guys just for the sake of getting rid of them, that tears us apart, period. Josh is a very influential person in that clubhouse, and so is Lack. Guys look to them for advice. Guys look to them for leadership and people are making these guys out to seem like the devil."

"I know Lack hasn't performed up to what people think he should. He'd be the first to come out and say that . . . He's not going to talk about his personal life, but it's tough to perform when you're going through stuff like that."

On reports of the pitchers playing video games during games:
"Video games never happened," Lester said. "I don't even know where that came from. I don't even know how to turn one of those fricking things on."

On the team's future:
"This is a good group of guys who want to compete and win, and that's getting lost in all this hoopla of finger-pointing and getting reports blown out of proportion, Lester said. "People are on a witch hunt to try to find out why the second-highest-paid team in baseball lost. It's not one particular reason. It was a group effort. We didn't play good baseball at the end of the season. I hope people can understand that we care and that we're going to do better next year. We're going to compete our asses off for the city of Boston. That's the biggest thing I want to get across to fans. We're going to do this. We're going to make it right."

Farrell launches 'Farrell's Fighters' ticket program for cancer patients

Farrell launches 'Farrell's Fighters' ticket program for cancer patients

Red Sox manager John Farrell, who was diagnosed with and successfully treated for lymphoma in 2015, today announced a new ticket program, “Farrell’s Fighters,” that invites patients being treated for the disease and their family to a game each month throughout the season.
 
“It was a challenging battle going through the treatment a few years ago, and beyond the support of family and friends, one of the things that helped me get through it was the escape I found in the game of baseball,” Farrell said in a team statement. “I hope this program can provide a positive, momentary break for the patients and their families from the daily rigors of treatment, and for baseball to be a tonic for them, as it was for me.”
 
In addition to VIP seats at the game, the program will include a meeting with the Red Sox manager, a tour of the ballpark, the chance to watch batting practice, and lunch or dinner in the EMC Club restaurant.
 
“Farrell’s Fighters” will launch with patients from Massachusetts General Hospital, where Farrell was treated in 2015, but will expand to include other area hospitals. The first patient to take part in the program is Nate Bouley, 42, of Sudbury, Mass., who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2015, and is in remission for the third time. Bouley, his wife, and two children will attend the Red Sox-Mariners game Sunday.

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

BOSTON -- Chris Sale was perfectly happy to sit back and watch the Red Sox hitters do the work this time.

Sale cruised into the fifth inning, then was rewarded in the seventh when the Boston batters erupted for seven runs on their way to a 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.

Sale (5-2) struck out six, falling short in his attempt to become the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to strike out at least 10 batters in nine straight games in one season.

But he didn't seem to mind.

"It was fun," said the left-hander, who received more runs of support in the seventh inning alone than while he was in any other game this season. "You get run after run, hit after hit. When we score like that, it's fun."

Dustin Pedroia waved home the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch, then singled in two more as the Red Sox turned a 3-1 deficit into a five-run lead and earned their third straight victory. Sam Travis had two singles for the Red Sox in his major league debut.

"I was a little nervous in the first inning," he said. "I'd be lying to you guys if I said I wasn't."

Mike Napoli homered for Texas, which has lost three of four to follow a 10-game winning streak.

FOR SALE

Sale, who also struck out 10 or more batters in eight straight games in 2015 with the White Sox, remains tied for the season record with Pedro Martinez. (Martinez had 10 straight in a span from 1999-2000.)

After scoring four runs in support of Sale in his first six starts, the Red Sox have scored 27 while he was in the game in his last five. He took a no-hitter into the fifth, but finished with three earned runs, six hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings.

"Guys pulled through for me when I was probably pretty mediocre," he said.

NO RELIEF

Sam Dyson (1-5) faced seven batters in relief of Martin Perez and gave up four hits, three walks - two intentional - and a wild pitch without retiring a batter.

"Martin threw the ball really well and I came in with two guys on and couldn't get an out," Dyson said. "Sometimes they hit them where they are, and sometimes they hit them where they aren't."

Asked if he felt any different, he said: "Everything's the same.

"If I get my (expletive) handed to me, it's not like anything's wrong," he said. "Any more amazing questions from you all?"

SEVEN IN THE SEVENTH

It was 3-1 until the seventh, when Andrew Benintendi and Travis singled with one out to chase Perez. Mitch Moreland singled to make it 3-2, pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge singled to tie it and, after Mookie Betts was intentionally walked to load the bases, Moreland scored on a wild pitch to give Boston the lead.

Pedroia singled in two more runs, Xander Bogaerts doubled and Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Dyson was pulled after walking Chris Young to force in another run.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx got Benintendi to pop up foul of first base, but Napoli let it fall safely - his second such error in the game. Benintendi followed with a sacrifice fly that made it 8-3 before Travis was called out on strikes to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor was shaken up when he dived for Betts' grounder up the middle in the third inning. He was slow getting up. After being looked at by the trainer, he remained in the game.

Red Sox: LHP David Price made his second rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing six runs - three earned - seven hits and a walk. He struck out four in 3 2/3 innings, throwing 89 pitches, 61 for strikes, and left without addressing reporters. 3B Pablo Sandoval also played in the game, going 2 for 4 with two runs.

"He felt fine physically," said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who added he would talk to Price on Thursday morning to determine how to proceed. "We had a scout there who liked what he saw."

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP Nick Martinez (1-2) to the mound in the finale of the three-game series.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (3-3) looks to snap a personal two-game losing streak.