Lester enjoys meaningful homecoming
With Sox in Seattle, hurler visits family, including ailing father
SEATTLE -- To Jon Lester, a Red Sox-Mariners series in Seattle is a lot more than just another three games on the schedule. It marks time he gets to come home and spend with his parents.
This particular trip has even more meaning than usual. Not only was Lester back home on the one-week anniversary of his memorable no-hitter, but it was the first time Lester had seen his parents since learning roughly a month ago that his father, John, has lymphoma.
Back in 2006, young Jon Lester was the one with anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
When Lester landed in Seattle on Sunday night, he headed straight to his parents' house in Puyallup, Wash., where he will sleep throughout Boston's three-day visit to play the Mariners.
"It was good," said Lester. "Like I said, I haven't seen him since Spring Training and since everything happened, and it was good to see him. I'm glad I'll be home for a little bit and catch up with some of my family I haven't seen in a while. I think three days is a good amount of time."
The way the schedule breaks, Lester and the Red Sox will be back in Seattle on July 21. That trip will have some special meaning of its own, as John Lester should be done with his chemotherapy treatments by then, and hopefully cancer-free.
As much as Jon Lester has spoken to his father on the phone during this trying time, seeing him face-to-face put him a little more at ease.
"It's just good to see him," said Lester. "Like I said, he was doing good from the beginning. He really doesn't look much different with the exception of no hair, and that's pretty much the only thing that's any different. Same old dad."
Perhaps watching his son overcome cancer has made John Lester's own recovery a little more bearable.
"One thing he said is he knows what to expect, he knows how to prepare for each treatment, what to do, what not to do, what to eat, what not to eat," the younger Lester said. "He definitely got a first-hand look at it. There's not much that they can say to you when you're going through it, just like there's not that much now that I can say to him. But everything was good with him and he had a lot of positive things to say to me the days I was down, and he kind of kicked me in the butt when I needed it."
John and Kathie Lester took the trek to Safeco Field to see the Red Sox-Mariners game Monday night, just as they are likely to do for all three games while their son is in town.
As for Jon Lester, who is not scheduled to pitch in the series, he hopes to visit his grandparents on Tuesday and even make a trip to Bellarmine Prep High School, where he was a superstar before being drafted by the Red Sox in 2002.
"It's good to be home," said Lester. "I haven't been home since last Christmas. It's good to see everybody."
Lester's even-keeled nature is probably serving him well at a time his father is going through such adversity.
"He's doing really well," Lester said. "He's handled the treatments well and everything has gone pretty good. It's been fine. It was tough when you first hear about it. It was kind of like mine; it was tough at first. But once you hear the prognosis and what the doctors have to say, everything turns out to be all right."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.