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10/12/08 6:08 PM ET

An interview with Jon Lester

Red Sox starting pitcher talks about Tampa Bay's offense

Terry was just talking a few minutes ago about how they really frustrated you last year with going so slow and bringing you along. When did you feel like, that's over, I'm beyond that; I'm full fledged, flat out, go 100 percent?

JON LESTER: I think this year coming into spring training. Just for the simple fact that I had a normal off season, could do the normal routine, and come in full strength and be able to do the same workload as everybody else. I don't think there was really any issues this year.

Can you talk about the challenges the Rays present offensively and how your experience, having faced them, will help you tomorrow?

JON LESTER: They're a good team, good offensive team that swings the bat well. I think they're a lot similar to the Angels where they're kind of an action after action team.

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If you can kind of stay away from the big innings where they get big hits after big hits and they start running all over the place, then you can kind of control the tempo. But you know, that's tough to do with this team.

They're a very energy based team. If they start getting the feel that they can attack you, then they're going to start going up there with more confidence.

If you can keep them off balance and keep them away from those big innings, I think you have a chance of really shutting them down.

Was it frustrating to you last year? I mean, were there times where you felt like you could be doing more but they were holding you back?

JON LESTER: Obviously. I'm a competitor. I want to go out and pitch. You don't ever want to have restrictions when it comes to what you do.

It was frustrating at times, but in the end it was the best thing for me. I think if they would have just let me go with no restrictions, I think I would have got hurt. I don't think I was physically ready to do the workload that I wanted to do. I was happy in the end that they did it.

The idea of being an ace or a stopper or whatever term you want to use, how much do you kind of embrace that and try to be that now?

JON LESTER: I don't think I try to be that. I just try to go pitch my game. You guys can put the labels on it as what you want.

I don't worry about that stuff, and like I said from the beginning, it doesn't matter to me who's the No. 1 starter and who's the No. 5 starter. We all have equal importance to this team when it comes to winning. I just try to go out and execute pitches. Hopefully I can go deep in the game and give the bullpen a rest and give it to Pap, and any time you get to Pap with the lead, we're doing pretty good.

Terry touched on how the shadows in the late afternoon sun can affect the hitters at Fenway, he said especially tough when left handers are pitching. Are you conscious of that? Does it affect the way you pitch knowing that you've got that slight advantage while the sun is still out?

JON LESTER: No, I don't really pay attention to it. If you're worried more about the shadows than trying to get a hitter out, then I think you have problems.

You still have to pitch the same game, execute your pitches as best you can. If the shadows end up helping you out, then great, but you can't really worry about that stuff.

You're going to pitch your game, but they also know -- the familiarity at this point in the season with a division opponent create any real problem?

JON LESTER: I don't think so. I think at times it helps both sides. It's just like pitching the Angels series, and five days later pitching to the same team. They know what I've got. They can go off of the last start, how I pitched and all that, but you still have to execute pitches. If you execute pitches and keep the ball down, no matter how often they see you, I think you have a good chance of doing well.

With that said, you also have times where they come out and they hit you pretty good, and that's just kind of the luck of the draw, I think. You leave some balls up over the plate and they hit it, whatever.

But execute pitches; that's what it comes down to is going out there and pitching your game, having the focus to -- I'm going to execute this pitch where I want to throw it, and they're not going to hit it, and if they do, then you adjust and hopefully get a ground ball the next pitch.

Do you feel any added pressure having become kind of the stopper on the team, the guy that needs to get it done now?

JON LESTER: No, I don't think I have any added pressure. I still have to go out and pitch. I think that just the postseason in itself adds a little bit of pressure to it.

I don't really see the sense of urgency right now. We're at home, and we've got three against them here, and hopefully we can put up a good fight these next couple games and pick up a couple wins, and we'll see where we're at after tomorrow.

Having seen Josh be so automatic in the postseason, what was it like watching him struggle like he did last night?

JON LESTER: It was tough. It's tough for any pitcher. It doesn't matter who you are, what your postseason record is, what your regular season record is. You never want to see a teammate, let alone a pitcher, go through stuff like that.

And everybody has starts like that, and he battled his butt off. That's what you do; you go out and you battle when you know you're not as sharp as you'd like to be, and you still have to go out and try to just battle, try to get as many outs as you can and try to get as deep as you can.

Those games are tough, mentally very tough games, because you're out there, you're focused and you're trying to do what you know how to do, and it's not cooperating with you.

That's the way it goes sometimes, I guess. It's just the luck of the draw.

What part of the pitching in the postseason do you enjoy the most? Is there something about it that you enjoy more than other parts of it?

JON LESTER: It's the postseason. I mean, we're one of four teams left right now. You're playing for the ultimate prize. You're playing for another ring, a chance to be world champions again.

I think a lot of the young guys that were here last year get spoiled. We're doing it again. It's almost like we expect it, and this is all we know.

You get a guy like Jason Bay over here who's played five seasons and never been, let alone had a chance. And it's just fun.

You can't really describe the atmosphere of the ballpark when you go play, and every pitch matters. Usually during the regular season if you're starting pitcher, you're kind of walking back and forth from the clubhouse to the dugout and not really paying attention to what's going on. And this time of year, every pitch, every at bat, every out, it matters so much more to trying to get to that next stage.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.