Other than Josh Beckett, no one will have more to prove on the Red Sox roster this year than Jon Lester. The typically mild mannered southpaw was named and crucified as one of the three culprits who led the chicken and beer scandal in the clubhouse that many feel led to the September collapse. All of this after being dubbed as the team’s ‘ace’ of the staff that had many holding Lester as one of the elite pitchers in the game. It’s safe to say that Lester has fallen in the ranks.
With spring training just under a week away before pitchers and catchers officially report for duty, Lester did what Lester should do; he reported early to get some much needed work in before camp kicks off. In translation, Jon Lester is leading by example. It is this Jon Lester that we’ve become accustom to watching and perhaps he even knows that the expectations have changed this year.
Lester was one of the first to discuss that dreadful final month of the season and he did so in October. As the saying goes, “crow is best served warm.” He addressed the situation while it was still fresh on everyone’s mind as he obviously wanted to put it behind him and move on. That’s what leaders do, they step up in situations that are uncomfortable and awkward, often in times when no one else wants to do it. Lester did it.
You could argue the point that Lester wasn’t a leader during the final two months of the season when the club was so desperate for someone to take the reigns and lead by example. He fell into the dark pathways that were created in the clubhouse and lost focus. It happens, especially in sport. But as true leaders do, he learnt from it and realized he screwed up, admitted to it and wants to move on.
Lester wasn’t the only one to report early. Other pitchers such as Aaron Cook, Andrew Miller, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Junichi Tazawa and other minor leaguers are also in Fort Myers, Florida. And who is there to help these what could be called ‘troubled pitchers’? Yes, you guessed it, Jon Lester. The silent leader who prefers to let his talking be done on the field more than off the field. That and because he was ordered by the public relations staff to not give lengthy interviews, at least not yet.
Bobby Valentine appears to have sold Lester on how he’s going to manage the club. Lester, who spent the off season at his home in Georgia admitted to speaking with Valentine on multiple occasions along with pitching coach Bob McClure. Something that can only be viewed as a positive.
It appears as though Jon Lester has taken all the right steps in an attempting to become an elite pitcher in the majors. He may not admit to leading by example but others beneath him are taking note and watching his every move. Lester will let his talking be done on the mound and maybe now this club will have their clear cut ‘ace’ that can lead by example.