MESA, Ariz. - Jon Lester and John Lackey are out to win the 2016 World Series with the Cubs.
You don't have to be their teammate or manager to know that. You don't even have to talk to them to know that.
Championship aspirations are a given with two of the most competitive pitchers in the game who have combined for four World Series rings and more than 225 postseason innings.
Lackey was the big free-agent pitching addition this offseason after Lester filled that bill the year prior.
Now, the two good friends have joined forces again -with veteran catcher and former Boston Red Sox teammate David Ross in tow - and Joe Maddon believes that could be a great thing.
"Jon Lester likes to have people around him that he's familiar with," Maddon said. "I think Lackey's the perfect foil, in a sense. Lack's gonna tell Jon Lester exactly what he thinks all the time and that's good.
"I think together, the combination of Lackey and David have the opportunity to bring out the best in Jon Lester. That's not to say that Jon Lester cannot do this on his own.
"I'm just saying this combination among those three guys, it's fun to watch. It's almost like a symbiotic relationship among the three of them.
"It's interesting. They've played together in the past, they connect very well on a lot of different levels. And because of that, I think they are obviously good for one another."
Maddon even said Lackey and Lester are "vibrating on the same level right now" and again mentioned how excited he was to have Lackey on the Cubs.
"We're lucky," Maddon said. "We're fortunate that John Lackey chose to come here. We're very fortunate that Jon Lester chose to come here last year.
"When we signed Lackey in the offseason, I thought he was one of the top free agent signs of the whole winter by anybody and specifically with us, how he fits in with everything we're doing.
"I think his attitude and the way he goes about his business will be felt by the other guys in a positive way."
Lester has admitted he felt some discomfort when he first came to the Cubs, which may have helped lead - along with that "dead arm" period in spring training - to a slow start in 2015 (6.23 ERA in April).
Now, with a year under his belt, Lester is more at ease with everything.
Having his best friend here doesn't hurt, either, of course.
"When you know people as well as we know each other, you can definitely talk to each other a little bit differently than you talk to anybody else," Lester said. "There's no sugarcoating anything around us. You probably don't want to be in on a lot of conversations around us.
"It's good having him. It's always good when you have friends on the team. It's nice having guys that don't sugarcoat things and you know exactly what they're gonna bring and what exactly they're gonna do for you and what you can do for them to make you better."
Lester is also helping to make sure Lackey feels comfortable in his first go-round with the Cubs, helping the 37-year-old right-hander get acclimated to the clubhouse in Mesa, the personnel, etc.
The two have already started placing bets on their performance as hitters this season, too, joking back and forth in their joint press conference Sunday about how Lester picked up his first career hit off Lackey last season.
Lackey is known for his competitive fire on the field, but Maddon - who was the bench coach of the Anaheim Angels when Lackey first broke into the big leagues - feels the new Cubs starter has mellowed a touch as he's grown older.
When a reporter posed that question to Lackey, Lester laughed and shook his head to indicate "no way."
"I get after it," Lackey said. "I know how that can be perceived sometimes. I think people find out that I'm a lot different than they think I am, which is fine.
"In between the lines, I really don't care what anybody thinks about me. I'm there to win."