Lackey impressive in three shutout innings for Sox

Lackey impressive in three shutout innings for Sox
March 5, 2013, 11:00 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – It’s been almost 18 months since John Lackey has faced a big league lineup.  And, while he has two previous springs training starts on the books, early spring lineups aren’t usually representative of big league lineups.
Tuesday night, though, Team Puerto Rico gave Lackey a legitimate challenge. One he rose to.
“Lackey was outstanding,” said one scout in attendance. “He looks like the old Lackey.”
Lackey, who was not involved in the decision, as the Sox won, 4-3, went three scoreless innings, giving up three hits and no walks with two strikeouts in an  exhibition, as Puerto Rico prepares for its first World Baseball Classic game, Friday against Spain in San Juan. Puerto Rico’s lineup featured several major leaguers including Angel Pagan, Irving Falu, Alex Rios, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, and former Sox shortstop Mike Aviles.

“I felt really good tonight,” Lackey said. “It was a really good day in the process. I feel like my arm strength’s getting better. Feel’s getting better each time out. So, happy with the direction we’re going.
“It was definitely an upgrade in competition from my last one. A lot of big leaguers, a lot of guys that’ll be starting in the league. So, yeah, it was fun.”
Fun. An element that had been lacking from the right-hander’s repertoire on the mound for quite a while.
“Yeah, I guess,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun when things don’t hurt, you got less things to worry about, for sure. And just worry about executing pitches and not worry about is this going to hurt and things like that. When you have some success, it’s always more fun than not.”
Lackey threw all his pitches, including cutters for the first time in a game. According to the scout, his fastball ranged from 91-94 mph, averaging about 92.
“I definitely felt like it was free and easy,” Lackey said. “I felt like [the fastball] was getting up there a little bit better. But still got a long way to go and it should get better.”
Manager John Farrell was pleased with Lackey’s outing.
“He was very good,” Lackey said. “He used all four of his pitches tonight, strikes with each one of them. With each additional outing he’s gone through, there’s increased arm strength. I thought he was real crisp tonight.”