Red Sox Lackey ready 'to get going'

565162.jpg

Red Sox Lackey ready 'to get going'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Lackey's not one forpronouncements.So as he begins his fourth season in a Red Sox uniform, he's not declaring this a makeover, or a comeback, or anything of the sort.
It doesn't seem to matter that Lackey isnoticeablytrimmer -- manager John Farrell said the pitcher's lost 17 pounds, but it looks as though it may be twice that -- and has a surgically-repaired elbow, the result of Tommy John surgery some 18 months ago.
But he'll let others declare this is a new beginning. Lackey just wants the baseball in his hand and his regular turn in the Red Sox starting rotation.
"I worked pretty hard," shrugged Lackey of his new physique. "I wanted to be ready when I got to camp. I put in a lot of work last year and I just wanted to give myself the best chance possible to perform well."
Lackey said he feels great, but is taking nothing for granted with Opening Day some six weeks away. There's plenty of work still to be done if he's going to make his first start since the infamous final week of the 2011 season, when the Red Sox crashed out of a playoff spot, setting the stage for some post-season revelations that featured a major league team sometimes behaving like college kids on spring break.
As far as he's come, Lackey knows his journey isn't complete. He's yet, for example, to throw any breaking pitches off a mound, something that he'll soon attempt.
"I've spun some breaking balls on flat ground," he said, "or playing catch. I just haven't thrown in downhill yet. I threw some breaking balls in (in the Instructional League) at the end of the last year, so I'm not concerned about that."
For now, Lackey takes comfort in the fact that his right arm, which pained him for most of 2011 as he pitched throw the elbow injury, is pain-free.
"It's nice for it not to hurt, to be honest with you," he said. "I definitely feel like I took a few years off, I guess."
Lackey wants no bonus points for pitching while injured and won't detail how long the elbow had been throbbing before hesuccumbedto the inevitable procedure a month or so after the conclusion of the season.
"It had been a little while," is all he would say when asked the question Thursday.
When he's asked about motivation, or about "making up" for a disappointing start to his Red Sox career -- a 4.40 ERA in 2010, and then a disastrous 6.41 ERA, the highest of any starter in the game, in 2011 -- he shows his defensive side briefly.
"Well, I was pitching with a blown-out elbow," he said. "Most of my years in the big leagues, I've been OK. If I'm healthy, I'll be just fine."
Nor is Lackey interested in talking about his suspicion that he was given bad information about the condition of his elbow in 2011.
"I'm not going to get into that," he said flatly.
Now that he's healthy, Lackey believes he can return to being the workhorse he was before the elbow issues derailed him. From 2003 through 2010, Lackey threw 198 or more innings six times in the span of eight seasons.
"I don't see why not," he said. "I wasn't feeling real great my first year here (2010) and I still threw (215) innings. I definitely thought I got myself in trouble my last year (2011), trying to go out and do some things I probably shouldn't have been."
There's no denying the sense of optimism he carries regarding 2013.
"I feel like it's my one of my first years in the big leagues again," he said. "I just want to get going."
And, left unstated, a chance to get away from the recent past.

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

BOSTON - David Ortiz may be masterful in the clutch and one of the more charitable athletes in the city, but much like anyone else, Big Papi doesn’t always inform his own Papi of news right away -- even if he plans to announce it to the general public.

“He actually didn’t tell me [that he planned to announce his retirement],” Enrique Ortiz, David’s father, said through a Red Sox’ translator on Saturday before the next-to-last regular-season game. “I was in the Dominican Republic when he announced it in the states.

While Enrique would explain -- humbly -- how proud he was of his son, he’s not so sure announcing his retirement before the season was the correct move.

“If I was [in America], I would have told him not to announce his retirement,” the elder Ortiz explained, “just because there’s so many things that can happen in a season. Or you might have a change of heart after the season.

“If I were here I would have told him to stay neutral so his options were more open. So I wouldn’t have told him to retire.”

Although dad wasn’t on board with his son’s announcement, he’s done what any good parent does -- bite their tongue and let things play out.

“I haven’t told him anything about why he's retiring because I know it’s coming from him and it’s his decision,” Enrique said. “But when I look back to 2013, I remember coming here and I see him with what looks like two cats on his feet. And I’m like ‘What happened to my boy? Did he get into an accident or something?’ And what he told me was, ‘This is how you son is making this money, doing all of this stuff before a game.’ So [him retiring] is not a surprise to me.”

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

red_sox_eduardo_rodriguez_092815.jpg

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

The Red Sox (93-67) look to close in on the No. 2 seed in the A.L. playoffs and home-field advantage in the Division Series with the Cleveland Indians (92-67) with a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.68 ERA) to the mound against left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.20). Rodriguez is expected to pitch either Game 3 or 4 of the Division Series against the Indians next week.

If both teams finish with 94 wins, the Red Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Indians, based on Boston winning the season series, 4-2. The Indians may have to play a makeup game Monday with the Detroit Tigers.

The Jays are a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top A.L. wild-card spot and hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot. 

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts moves back to his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order after hitting sixth Friday night. Right-handed hitting Aaron Hill is at third base and Christian Vazquez catches for Boston.

There will be the second of three ceremonies this weekend to honor retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz before the game.  

The lineups:

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Christian Vazquez C
---
Eduardo Rodriguez LHP

BLUE JAYS
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Jose Bautista DH
Russell Martin C
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Melvin Upton LF
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera RF
---
J.A. Happ LHP