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Cubs’ Jon Lester rips commissioner Rob Manfred for ‘piece of metal’ comment

“To me, that’s somebody who’s never played our game,” said Lester, a three-time World Series winner. Manfred apologized publicly a few hours later Tuesday.

Teammates Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo with a “piece of metal” from 2016.
Teammates Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo with a “piece of metal” from 2016.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

MESA, Ariz. — Another day, another round of shots at the cheating Astros and the soft-on-crime commissioner of baseball.

From the Yankees’ Aaron Judge to three-time World Series winner Jon Lester of the Cubs, the anger and disgust around MLB showed no sign of going away anytime soon.

Lester minced no words Tuesday when asked about commissioner Rob Manfred’s recent self-defense for deciding not to strip the Astros of their 2017 title — citing lack of precedent and calling the World Series trophy just “a piece of metal.”

“To me, that’s somebody who’s never played our game,” said Lester, who won with the Red Sox in 2007 and 2013 and with the Cubs in 2016. “We play for a reason. You play for that piece of metal. I’m very proud of the three that I have. If that’s the way he feels, he needs to take his name off the trophy.”

A few hours later, during an annual conference with baseball writers in Arizona, Manfred apologized for the “disrespectful” comment.

“There’s no excuse for it,” Manfred said. “I made a mistake. I was trying to make a point, but I should have made it in a more effective way. I want to apologize for it.”

He added: “There is no greater pleasure in this job than awarding that trophy. I understand what it means, and again, it was a mistake to say what I said.”

Lester, one of several players who ripped Manfred, said when people visit his home, the first thing he shows them is his trophy case.

It represents “a lot of years, a lot of hard work,” Lester said. “I’m sure that hurt a lot of guys when they saw that, especially guys that haven’t won it that have been striving for years to get it. I’m sure if Adam Dunn heard that, who [dressed for] one playoff game in his whole career, he’d probably be pretty upset. It’s a very, very special thing that [Manfred] brought down.”

Earlier in the day in Florida, Judge — who finished second to Astros sign-stealer Jose Altuve in a close American League MVP race — confirmed he deleted a social-media post congratulating Altuve at the time.

“To find out it wasn’t earned, [that] they cheated, that didn’t sit well with me,” Judge said.