“We stunk, I stunk and Tampa Bay was better,” Lester said.
It was the first step toward healing the wounds from the September slump, when the Red Sox finished 7-20 to miss the playoffs. Josh Beckett promptly followed Lester’s blueprint as he addressed the meltdown and clubhouse antics in a subsequent interview.
The latter issue was a hot topic on Sunday. After the 2011 season ended, reports pinpointed Lester, Beckett and fellow pitcher John Lackey as pitchers who chugged beer and feasted on fried chicken in the clubhouse.
Although Beckett never issued an outright apology, the 31-year-old certainly expressed disappointment about the situation.
“I’m upset at myself for the lapses in judgment,” Beckett said. “But there’s also some ill feelings toward some people.”
When asked to elaborate on his frustrations, the hurler declined to single out specific personnel. Despite the clubhouse controversy, Beckett insisted he was prepared to pitch last year, but simply couldn’t execute in his last two starts against Baltimore.
Beckett, however, offered one admission from last season.
“I put on a little bit of weight,” Beckett said. “I don’t have a reason for it, but it happened and I’m looking forward to going forward from here.”
As Lester reflected on his September mishaps, the 28-year-old also said he couldn’t identify his pitching woes. But Lester –– who spoke for 20 minutes –– showed contrition over his clubhouse blunder and emphasized a desire to change.
“I think the biggest thing is myself, I’m ready to move on from it,” Lester said. “I learned from it. It’s something I’m not proud of. The biggest thing is you learn from your mistakes and I’m looking forward to starting new and trying to be a leader.”
That process started Sunday, the official date for pitchers and catchers to report for spring training. Alongside the younger teammates, both Lester and Beckett were out sprinting and tossing bullpen sessions at JetBlue Park.
“I think we need to earn [the fans'] trust back,” Beckett said. “They are the best fans in baseball –– there’s some good and bad –– but they’re the best fans in baseball and we need to earn that trust back. The way we have to do that is go about our business the way the way we had in previous years, earn it back and win ballgames.”