Jon Lester: Talks 'very, very positive ... our door is always open'

March 29, 2014 - 8:29 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester discussed the "pause" that the Red Sox and he agreed to take in negotiations of a potential contract extension, suggesting that he found the talks "very encouraging," that he still wants to remain with the Sox beyond the expiration of his current contract at the end of this year but that the two sides felt that, with Opening Day upon them, it made sense to resume talks at a subsequent time. Lester, who'd said talks would have continued into the season had they reached "the 5-yard line," said that they had not reached the "red zone," thus resulting in the decision. Still, the pitcher said that the "door is always open" to talks during the season, but that he'd be less directly involved in them in deference to his in-season responsibilities. He characterized the dialogue as "amicable," and showed no evidence of pessimism about the potential for a deal ultimately getting done. Here is a transcript of some of his remarks: On reaching the decision to 'pause' talks: "We talked yesterday about it. That was a collective kind of statement from both sides. At the point where I felt like if we continued it would be a distraction. Just felt like for right now, that's probably the best decision for both sides." Is there any disappointment that, given your interest in getting a deal done, you haven't accomplished that yet? "I don't know if disappointing is the right word. I think any time you go into a position like this, you have to prepare yourself for something to not happen. Like I've said from the beginning, both sides, it was very encouraging, the stuff that was going on, but like I said and like Ben said, where we're at right now isn't a good time to continue. Just put it on pause for now and see where we go from there." Have the negotiations been amicable? "Absolutely. Absolutely. I don't want to say it's been pleasant. I don't think anytime you have a negotiation process it's pleasant. But amicable is a good word, a good way to describe it. Both sides have communicated very well. I've felt like I've been a part of it. Things have been pretty positive. I don't think there's, by any means, a bad end to this right now. I think everything ended on a positive note. Just for right now, we're going to put it on hold and maybe resume it a little bit later." Could you talk again before the end of the season? "I think so. I think both sides, like I said, have been really receptive. You just, our door is always open and I feel like their door is open. Like I said, just right now, with everything that's going on at the beginning of the season, we both decided that it would be a good time to just kind of take a step back, kind of regroup and see where it leads us." If they called in, for instance, mid-May, and said let's try again, you'd be receptive? "Yeah, I think, this is obviously different circumstances. I won't be as involved. When I say distraction, that's probably what I mean moreso than anything. We'll leave that to [agents Seth and Sam Levinson] and those guys and [GM Ben Cherington, CEO Larry Lucchino and principal owner John Henry] for them to get in a room or for them to get on a telephone and talk, and when things maybe get closer, then maybe me starting to get a little bit more involved. Just, with everything going on -- we've got a lot going on these next couple weeks, this next month, so we just felt like it was a good time to take a step back." Dustin Pedroia ended up talking with the team last spring training and then signing an extension in the summer. Can you envision a similar scenario? "I think different circumstances. I don't know anything about a timeline. Like I said, I know as far as yesterday, I talked to Seth, I actually talked to Ben on the phone. We all collectively came up with this agreement. I think we all said yesterday that we're not going to put a timeline on it. If things progress and Ben and John and all those guys want to get together with Seth, like I said, our door is always open." You still want to stay in Boston? "Yeah. Yeah. That doesn't change anything. This hasn't been a war of words, like I'm sitting here pounding my fist and they're screaming at us. This has been, I feel like, very positive. I'm not going to go out and badmouth the Red Sox organization and I would hope they don't badmouth my side and my representation for the way we've handled it. Like I said, I think both sides have been very, very positive. Just for whatever reason, just the timeframe now, we just didn't get a deal done." Did it get to the red zone? "If it was the red zone, we'd still be talking. And I think that would be ideal. But like I said, for whatever reason, the timeline that we had here in spring training, we didn't get to that point. With that being said, that's not a negative. From day one, things have been very positive and good dialogue, but when you have something like this, Pedey's deal is a little bit different. I'm going into free agency. It's a little bit different circumstance. We're making sure that we cross our T's and dot our I's on everything and they're doing the same thing."