Jon Lester Defends Josh Beckett, Commends Former Teammate for Having ‘A Lot of Guts’


Jon Lester Defends Josh Beckett, Commends Former Teammate for Having 'A Lot of Guts'Jon Lester
didn't know the Boston Red Sox without Josh Beckett. In a span of just a couple of days in late August, though, the two were separated when Beckett was dealt to the Dodgers.

So maybe it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Lester feels the need to defend Beckett after the pitcher was shipped to Los Angeles as part of a blockbuster trade last month.

"Josh was a very important part of this team for a very long team," Lester told ESPN.com "He's affected a lot of young players in positive ways more than people think. With all the [expletive] that came out last year, it has nothing to do with Josh as a person, Josh as a teammate, Josh as a baseball player. He's obviously going to be missed as a pitcher and will be missed as a friend, for me, but people are going to think what they want about it. No matter what we try to do to change it, we're not going to change it."

Beckett was ripped by media and fans alike for his reported behavior over the course of his Red Sox career, something that became even bigger in the last year. The right-hander was believed to be one of the biggest offenders in the chicken and beer fiasco, and he didn't make things any better this season. Beckett defiantly reminded everyone that baseball players only get so many off days during the season after he decided to play golf just a few days after being scratched from a start.

Then there was Beckett's performance on the field. The veteran was awful this season for Boston, going 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA. That's after he went 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in four starts last September.

Still, Lester was able to find a way to defend Beckett and the way it ended in Boston. 

"It was such a hard last two years for him, last three years — physically, mentally — and when you're made out to be the demon of the team, it's tough," Lester told ESPN.com "I mean, the guy got hurt, walked off the mound and he was getting booed. That's got to be tough for him.

"People don't get to see the day-to-day grind of what we do and how hard it is to be ready to pitch every five days. With that being said, it's hard to play every day as well. For him to pitch every five days like he did, with what he was dealing with last year, the year before, even this year, it takes a lot of guts to go out there."

Lester also revealed that it was Beckett who attempted to serve as a leader for the Red Sox pitching staff when it came to things like preparation. Coincidentally, a perceived lack of preparation is the reason some media members and fans were calling for Beckett's departure.

It was such a hard last two years for him, last three years — physically, mentally — and when you're made out to be the demon of the team, it's tough. I mean, the guy got hurt, walked off the mound and he was getting booed. That's got to be tough for him.

"Josh instilled that early on for myself and some of the other younger guys, saying 'You've got to work hard and you need to prepare,'" Lester told the website.

"He prepared differently than [Curt Schilling]. Schill prepared video-wise and mentally, that was his way to gain the edge on the other team. For us, it was 'I need to get in the gym, I need to run and I need to do those things to get the edge.' That's still the case today."

Beckett is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts with the Dodgers since being traded on Aug. 26.

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