By Maureen Mullen
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Lackey approached his third start of the spring as if it was a regular season game. The result: 4 23 innings, giving up one run on six hits with no walks and three strikeouts in the Red Sox 9-2 win over the Marlins at City of Palms Park.
Today I kind of pitched more like I would during the season, he said. I incorporated a lot more pitches today, as oppose to the first two times I was pretty fastball- heavy. So today it was more like a regular season start and I was able to throw some off-speed pitches behind in the count and do some things that I need to do in the season.
Despite his approach today, hes still working on a few things, including his cutter.
I probably only threw four or five of them, he said. Had one little backdoor one for a strikeout, which was nice. Located that one good.
After Lackey got Emilio Bonifacio to fly out for the first out of the fifth inning, manager Terry Francona came out to get the right-hander. Lackey had thrown 75 pitches, 49 for strikes.
I thought he was good, Francona said. He gave up some hits, but I never felt like he was out of control of the game. Gave up some base hits but only gave up the one run. Always seemed like he was in command of what he was doing. Changed speeds. I thought he did fine.
Francona wanted Lackey to start the fifth to get the feel for getting ready for that number of innings.
Me not being a pitcher, I dont know that, but when you talk to pitching coaches they really want that, Francona said. That up and down is important as we continue to try and stretch them out, get them stronger. So we knew he was going to go out for one hitter. Im not trying to get in the middle of the game and make a bunch of pitching changes but we wanted him to get that other up and down. Thats just something in the progression of getting ready.
Lackey expects to be back on a five-day schedule before his next start, adding an extra day into his routine after preparing for the start of the season.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen