NEW YORK — Jon Lester stood at his locker in the visitors’ clubhouse at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, getting ready to depart after a hard-fought series in which the Boston Red Sox took two of three from the New York Yankees. He knew the contract questions were coming as soon as the thundering herd of reporters headed his way.
“We must be in New York,” said Lester, who also was forced to answer questions about his looming free agency when the Red Sox were in the Bronx back in April.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Sunday that the Red Sox have “re-engaged” Lester’s representation in what could be one last run at trying to sign the left-hander before he hits the open market after this season. Lester denied the sides have resumed talks, offering very little in the way of new information.
“I mean, I don’t think they’ve started anything,” Lester said after Sunday’s 8-5 win. “I know the conversation has been there throughout the season, different topics. Like I said from the beginning of the season, everything is amicable and conversations continue. But nothing as far as contract or numbers or anything like that.”
Lester’s biggest concern is that the contract talks — or speculation regarding his future — will become a burden for the Red Sox, who have plenty of other questions to answer amid their rollercoaster season.
“Like I’ve said before, I think it’s an added distraction that we don’t need right now,” Lester said. “We need to focus on playing good baseball and getting back to the top of the East and going from there, hopefully getting to the playoffs. We don’t need to be worried about my contract stuff. That’s the last thing I want these guys to have to answer questions about.
“I mean, kind of like tonight. We got a big win, took a series from the Yankees, playing good baseball and we’re sitting here talking about this. This is the last thing we need to be talking about right now.”
Lester, who outdueled Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka on Saturday en route to his ninth win of the season, is in the midst of an impressive campaign in which he owns a 2.92 ERA through 17 starts. The 30-year-old hurler is putting himself into a position to land an even bigger payday, although it clearly won’t come before a constant smattering of outside noise.