Jon Lester doesn’t know if Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez on purpose. He doesn’t seem to care, either.
The dust has finally settled regarding the whole Dempter-Rodriguez incident from Aug. 18, but Lester showed support for his teammate while making an appearance on WAAF’s The Hill-Man Morning Show on Wednesday.
“He never told us straightforward if he threw at him on purpose, but if he did, I stand behind my teammate,” Lester said. “I don’t think you can do anything but that. … If that was his intent, then I would have ran right out there with everybody else and stood in front of him and do whatever I need to do to protect him. That’s our clubhouse, that’s our team. That’s the way it should be in baseball. That’s what you have to do.”
Lester was on a flight to San Francisco when the incident occurred. He was scheduled to pitch against the Giants the next day, so he flew out during the Red Sox’ game against the Yankees while the rest of the team flew out the following morning.
Lester’s comments about the incident seem very different from David Ortiz‘s initial remarks. Ortiz said that he didn’t like to see Dempster hit Rodriguez on purpose, which sparked some controversy, especially given Ortiz’s friendship with Rodriguez. Ortiz later clarified his comments, saying that he didn’t think hitting Rodriguez was a good idea because it woke up a monster in the Yankees.
Ortiz, who noted that he and Dempster are on good terms, said that the media blew his comments out of proportion, and Lester seems to agree. The southpaw said Wednesday that he thinks Ortiz’s comments were taken the wrong way.
“David, he speaks really, really good English, but sometimes — and this is not a knock to him — he means one thing and says another,” Lester said. “I’ve been around for seven years, and he’s done that before, just having a conversation. He’s kind of like, ‘Oh, I didn’t mean that, hold on,’ and he’ll go back and change what he’s trying to say.
“Obviously when you say something like that to the media, you can’t go back and change it. But obviously everybody in the clubhouse knew what he meant by that, and nobody [in the clubhouse] took it the way that everybody else took it. We all knew what he meant, and we all know he’s got Demp’s back.
“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with. Nobody thought anything about it when he said it. Obviously things get blown up a little bit around here. It got squashed pretty quickly.”
The Red Sox and Yankees will kick off a four-game series in New York on Thursday. Dempster won’t pitch against the Bronx Bombers, as he’s starting Wednesday’s game against the Tigers, but it’s still safe to say that the whole Dempter-A-Rod saga might be mentioned once or twice during the series.