Jon Lester's impact on Cubs, Anthony Rizzo still resonates

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Lester’s impact on Cubs, Rizzo still resonates originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Jon Lester may no longer call Wrigley Field home, but his impact on the Cubs clubhouse lives on despite leaving for the Nationals as a free agent this offseason.

When Lester signed with the Cubs in December 2014, it represented a turning point for a franchise that hadn’t won a World Series since 1908, let alone a playoff game since 2003. Lester and his big-game experience helped push the Cubs out of a rebuild and into contention-mode.

Lester is back in town with the Nationals this week, and some of his former teammates reflected on the impact he had on the Cubs franchise.

“I think he brought a championship mentality, a preparation and hard work that he expected every day that he held himself accountable for and that he was brought up knowing how to do,” said Cubs manager David Ross, Lester’s former teammate, manager and good friend.

“He brought that here and winning followed, so I would say a championship pedigree and a winning attitude and a willingness to prepare every day to go out and win a baseball game."

Sure enough, the Cubs made the postseason in five of Lester's six seasons on the North Side, winning a championship in 2016.

Lester’s impact on Anthony Rizzo extends off the field and back to their time in the Red Sox organization. After Rizzo, then a prospect, was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, then-Boston GM Theo Epstein introduced him to Lester, who overcame Lymphoma in 2006.

"Him just giving me the advice and the challenge to rise above the challenge and help me through that time," Rizzo said, "and everything he did about winning and his generosity. ...

"He’s the most generous person I’ve ever played with."

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