Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester on Monday told the Boston Globe he thought the clubhouse “needed more structure” than Terry Francona could provide, a notion ESPNBoston.com contributor and former Sox pitcher Curt Schilling thought was “sad” and “embarrassing.”
"That kind of boggles my mind that he said that, because at the end of the day, these are grown men,” Schilling said in an impromptu on-air call into Boston sports radio station WEEI. “Do you need a manager to tell you? They all knew, and you always know, when you’re doing something that’s questionable or wrong. They chose not to correct it, and because they chose not to correct it, I think some of them were absolutely not in good enough shape to pitch through September and help them win games.”
In the same interview with the Globe, Lester admitted to drinking beer in the clubhouse on days he wasn’t pitching, but stressed that it had nothing to do with the team’s September collapse. On that point, Schilling didn’t argue.
“The one message I got was that Jon Lester never stopped busting his ass through the bitter end from a work perspective,” Schilling said. “Unfortunately, when you think about his September (1-3, 5.40 ERA), you have to attribute that to lackluster performance. As far as Jon goes, I am happy the young man that I know wasn’t dragged into this.”
In his vigorous defense of Francona, who was his manager both in Boston and at a previous stint in Philadelphia, Schilling said it was the self-policing managerial style Lester identified as a problem that carried the team to two championships.
“That basically says, at the age of 28, 29, 30, I need an adult more mature than me to give me rules and guidelines,” Schilling said. "That’s sad, because that’s why we won World Series. We won those World Series because (Francona) was that way, because he allowed us to police ourselves. What it says to me even more clearly, they have no leadership whatsoever in that clubhouse."
Schilling also revealed that when he was a player, Francona would question him on the amount of time he was spending in the clubhouse during games.
"I spent a lot of time in the clubhouse. I did so for a couple different reasons. The most important was if I didn’t get time in the clubhouse to look at video to get ready to pitch, then I would have had to have been at the park at 10 or 11 a.m.," said Schilling. "If you don’t have the makeup to translates to players, ‘Hey, he’s in the clubhouse getting his work done. He’s doing therapy. He’s doing his arm exercises.’
“Clearly that’s the message that Terry got. These guys weren’t in the clubhouse getting work done. They were in the clubhouse because they didn’t want to be on the bench. And that’s a very different setup. Terry came to me a couple different times and was unhappy that I was in the clubhouse, and he made it clear, and wanted me to change my program. My guess is that, based on conversations after this, he did that exact thing."