Sox undecided on Lackey pitching for Sox in September

Sox undecided on Lackey pitching for Sox in September
August 20, 2012, 1:29 am
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NEW YORK -- John Lackey is making progress coming back from Tommy John surgery, but the Red Sox are undecided whether he'll pitch for them before the season is complete.

Lackey threw a 45-pitch side session as Bobby Valentine watched. The manager liked what he saw.

"I would say that I'll bet you there were 35 to 37 of those pitches were excellent," said Valentine. "They were thrown with an ease of motion and had perfect location, movement. I was very impressed with what I saw. And, after talking to him after with what I saw, he's feeling really good about his progress."

Lackey will try to throw more breaking balls on flat ground as part of his next step, then return to a session where he replicates a game situation by pitching "innings."

As to whether Lackey might pitch in September, the Sox haven't made a determination. He underwent surgery last October, which would have him at the 11-month recovery stage next month.

"We haven't gotten quite that far in the schedule," said GM Ben Cherington. "He's come along really well. I fully expect him to pitch in some sort of competitive environment this year so that he can go into the off-season and feel like it's a normal off-season. But I don't know when that game is or what that game is."

There's only about two weeks left in most minor league seasons making it, according to Cherington, "unlikely he'll pitch in a regular-season minor league game."

Lackey could conceivably pitch in an Instructional League game or a simulated game at the team's minor league complex in Fort Myers.