Red Sox Lackey ready 'to get going'

Red Sox Lackey ready 'to get going'
February 15, 2013, 5:31 am
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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.