Lester threw a bullpen today and spoke to the media afterwards. Here’s some notes from his mini press conference.
* On new pitching coach Juan Nieves: “I know there’s been a revolving door there, but I think Juan will be a good fit for us.’’
* Whether he has a chip on his shoulder: “Obviously. Obviously, that desire not to fail. It’s solely on me. Not anybody else. Not on the revolving door of pitching coaches, not on the manager, not on anybody but myself. That being said, I still have to look at the positives that were there and not focus on the negatives. … Yeah, there’s a little bit of a chip there. I want to prove that last year was a fluke and won’t happen again.’’
* On players wanting to make up for last season: “I don’t think it’s about talking about last year. I think you can just see it in some guys, especially. David [Ortiz], I’ve been with him, he’s one of the last guys, I played since 2004 with Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] and Ells [Jacoby Ellsbury] and all those guys. We’ve never, in the minor leagues or big leagues, had a season like that. It’s frustrating, and it’s humbling, it can also be a positive in the end. Nobody wants to be that team. Nobody wants to do what we did last year.’’
* On taking a break from the game: “I didn’t even pay attention to baseball in the offseason. I didn’t even watch the playoffs this year. That first month I tried to get as far as away as I could, spend some time with my family and just unwind and release as best I could. Obviously there were some days in there you couldn’t help but think about it and reflect on the season but like I said, I tried to drown out the negative — there was a lot of it. You try to filter through that and get to some positives. I think by the end of the offseason, I finally got there and feeling good about where I’m at.”
* On inheriting the responsibility for the rotation now that Josh Beckett is gone: “Oh, absolutely. Since Josh left, now I’m the highest-tenured Red Sox as far as the pitching staff. I inherit that responsibility and take it in full stride. What I was getting at is, it’s not a matter of not wanting to be a leader, it’s a matter of I don’t want to call myself a leader. The people that nominate themselves to be leaders are false leaders. The guys, like ‘Tek [Jason Varitek], who go out, play hurt, bust their butt and they show everybody that they’re the guy, everybody puts that on him. That’s what I hope happens.’’
* On changing his mound demeanor: “Obviously there are a lot of things I can improve on as far as my on-field actions. I know I’ve had some problems with umpires, I know I’ve had some problems with body language at times. A lot of people have. It’s something that we all struggle with and it’s something I can get better with. Every year I strive to get better at it.
“It’s just when you get caught in those moments being competitive, you throw all that stuff out the window. It’s just that. Taking the ball every five days, grinding every pitch out and trying to be that guy on the field whether it’s on Field 6 or Fenway Park — good body language, not cussing the umpire, not throwing fits in the dugout, doing those little things.
“I don’t know. I think it depends on the player. You take a guy like Youk or a guy like Pedey: They need to do things like that or else I think they’d have heart attacks. They need to blow up. Some players are looked at as it being gritty and blue-collar, and other players are looked at as being whiners. I think we can all get better with it. As far as the fans, obviously people don’t want to come out and see you lose. Winning is the first step. We show them that we’re a good team and we can worry about those little, nitpick things later.”
* On whether he loves baseball and Boston, because sometimes it doesn’t appear that way: “I love baseball. I love Boston. People don’t see me other than the fifth day. When I’m out there, 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. I may be cussing up a storm and yelling at somebody, but I’m having fun. I love to pitch. I love everything that is pitching, everything there is to baseball.
“I don’t want to also come across as lackadaisical and aloof and not really caring about working hard. I take everything I do very seriously. I want my workouts to be the way they should be, I want my bullpen to go the way it should be, I want my game to go the way it should be. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be [ticked]. That’s just who I am. At the same time, yeah, I can improve on those in-between days where you don’t take it as serious. But I’d rather be on the serious side and work my way down than be the goofball and work my way up.’’
* On people having lowered expectations for him: “I love it. Bring it on. What you guys expect of me is nothing next to what I expect of myself. I expect a lot. That’s why, as far as me being serious, that’s why I am the way I am. I try to live up to my own expectations before anybody else’s.
“Obviously that’s never going to happen. I take my job seriously, and I want to reach those. Just because I don’t doesn’t mean it’s a failed season. Every year, my expectations have been higher of myself than what I have done, but that doesn’t mean it’s a failed season. There are things involved in that season that are good and some that are bad.
“You try to take every offseason and learn from those, throw out the negatives and move on with the positives and hopefully you just keep building off those and your expectations get higher and higher from there.’’