Parting ways with Jon Lester last week was tough, not only for Red Sox fans, but for the players as well. You see, baseball is a funny thing. For years, you can play alongside a teammate, and develop a very special relationship that goes beyond the diamond. And yet, one day, that relationship can be cut off by a trade, and you part ways with the guy you’ve called a friend for so long. Baseball is a business, and that’s the way things go.
With Jon Lester and David Ross, that was sort of the scenario. Although Ross hasn’t been in Boston as long as Lester has, the two have been working together for quite a while, and parting ways was tough for the 37-year old catcher.
“We were able to say our goodbyes, and hopefully see you around kind of thing,” Ross said. “It’s weird, baseball’s funny like where you’re really, really close, and then somebody gets traded and you may never talk to them again. It was one of those things, you’re happy for him but again, sad to lose a friend and a great player.”
But maybe Ross didn’t need to say his goodbyes quite yet. As soon as Lester left, there was quite a bit of speculation that he may be returning to Boston, the place he’s called home for his entire career before being dealt to Oakland. The more you think about it, the more it seems like a possibility.
Lester loves Boston, and Boston loves Lester; that hasn’t changed. He’s won two world championships, tossed a no-hitter, and visited three All-Star games in a Red Sox uniform. He’s called Fenway home for his entire professional career. Boston is special to Lester. Boston is home.
David Ross knows this, and believes it may be just the reason for Lester to return in the coming months.
“I think (Lester) has a special place in his heart for Boston, for sure,” Ross said on 98.5′s “Toucher & Rich“. “He grew up here — why wouldn’t he? And then his family, and there’s a lot of history with him and the Red Sox. So, I wouldn’t put it past him. I know free agency is a crazy thing, but I definitely feel like it’s probably an option.”
Former Red Sox Mike Lowell knows what it’s like to be in this situation, as he faced a scenario very similar to Lester’s after the 2007 season, when Lowell was offered a four-year, $48 million dollar contract with the Phillies. Rather than taking the dough and the extra season, Lowell opted to remain in Boston, and signed a three-year, $38 million dollar deal with the Red Sox.
For Lowell, it wasn’t about the money, it was about the experience.
“For me, it was no doubt I loved playing in a real energized baseball atmosphere every day,” Lowell told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “I loved (that) the city was into the team every single day. All of the stuff that people say in Boston that some guys didn’t like, the non-stop talking baseball, that’s what I crave. Maybe it is similar somewhere else, but I hadn’t seen it.
“Don’t get me wrong, my family was comfortable. My family loved being in Boston. But that baseball atmosphere, it was so overwhelming positive for me. I knew a good contract was coming either way, but I wanted to be in the situation where I enjoyed playing baseball the most, and it was there.”
Lowell, a former teammate of Lester’s, knows him pretty well, and believes that Lester has a similar mindset.
“Financially, (Lester) made it already,” Lowell told Bradford. “He made it with the first contract. The numbers are going to be staggering, so what can he do with $130 million that he can’t do with the $75 million? Jonny isn’t a guy who has four Ferraris. He’s a down-to-earth guy. So he’s looking at the situation for himself, where he’s going to be comfortable. He’s a competitor, so he’s going to want to be in a competitive atmosphere, and then what his family likes. For me in ’07, all three of those came down to Boston.”
“What he is going to look for in the offseason is comfort for his family, because the baseball is going to be there no matter where he goes,” Lowell said. “He’s going to get the ball every fifth day no matter what. I think he’s going to go to a place where the baseball is a comfortable situation, meaning the city.”
Boston is Lester’s home… So, come home soon.