Sunday, July 22, 2012
Pedroia to Lester: We have your back
By Tony Lee
Numerous meetings, including a private talk with Dustin Pedroia, couldn't help Jon Lester on Sunday.
BOSTON -- During a five-run first inning Sunday afternoon, Jon Lester got a visit from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, another in a potential squeeze bunt situation from third baseman Nick Punto and then a more notable one from manager Bobby Valentine. After finally escaping a horrific frame, Lester had one more meeting to go through.
The ever-fiery Dustin Pedroia was caught on television cameras giving Lester a rather serious talking to between innings. Although the pep talk didn't produce positive results (Lester gave up 11 runs in four-plus innings), the hope is that they will come in time.
“Basically just telling him that we have his back,” Pedroia said of the discussion. “I mean, everyone goes through tough times. But just said however many more starts you have the rest of the way … we’re not going to win the World Series if Jonny’s not himself, if I’m not myself. He’s not going anywhere, he’s our horse. We love him and I’ll play behind him any day of the week. Just wanted to make sure he knows that.”
Lester gave every indication that the message was received loud and clear.
“I still need to go out and do my job. He did his job today, but I've got to do my job,” Lester said. “That’s what it comes down to. It’s nice to know that guys obviously want you to succeed, not only on a business level but on a personal level. It’s nice to know guys have my back, which I know they all do. So just got to keep grinding it out.”
The first two pitches Lester threw after the talk were cutters that sailed way inside on Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie. After the second one, Pedroia took a fast walk out toward right field, possibly frustrated with Lester’s inability to attack. That doesn’t mean that Pedroia is annoyed with his teammate. He simply wants to see Lester get back to the basics.
“As long as I’ve known Jon, every game he pitches we’re in it. It’s all you can ask for,” Pedroia said. “He’s got a great winning percentage for a reason, because he’s a bulldog, attacks the zone and gets outs and overpowers people. His confidence is not high right now, but it will get back to being high. He’ll be fine.
“He’s had that talk with me. Everyone goes through tough times throughout the year and it feels good when a teammate comes to you and says it’s going to be all right.”