Lackey threw 15 pitches to hitters, felt 'great'

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Lackey threw 15 pitches to hitters, felt 'great'

BOSTON -- John Lackey threw 15 pitches to hitters before Saturday night's game at Fenway Park. It was the first time he faced live hitting since his Tommy John surgery. And according to Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, he felt "great" afterwards.

"It's the first step in the new world for him, after a real hard summer of rehab," said Valentine. "And better than how he looked, is how he felt. He said he felt great afterwards. And that's what's really important."

So, how did he look?

"He looked okay," said Valentine. "I mean, considering it's the first time. His breaking ball was really good, which is usually the last thing. He's been working on that less. It was good. He just didn't have real good control of his two-seamer."

Valentine said that he expects Lackey to now get some rest, and then throw again in four days. The goal all along has been to get Lackey a few innings in an actual game before this season ends. The Red Sox manager hinted, on Friday, that those innings could come in Boston.

On Saturday, Valentine said he wasn't sure if that was still the goal. Instead, he pointed toward the goal being having Lackey back for next season. And not just back, but back at full strength.

"Whether or not that has to be opening day, I can tell you right now, I don't think that's necessarily a goal," said Valentine. "To get him back healthy would be the key, 100 percent."

Valentine went on to praise Lackey's work ethic throughout his whole rehab process.

For some outside of the organization, the thought of Lackey being around the Red Sox all season was a distraction. But on Saturday, Valentine called his everyday presence "impressive" and even "religious."

"From the first day of spring training, when I saw John in the weight room, I was impressed with his work," said Valentine. "He works after games, late. He's here religiously. The only day I haven't seen him working out, he had to make a move in Southern California, one day the whole year. It's really been very impressive."

Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

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Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

The Boston Red Sox put up six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. led the way for the Red Sox with four and three RBI respectfully. Both outfielders had two-run home runs in the Sox’ big first inning.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up one earned run in four innings, his ERA for the spring is now 0.68.

The Red Sox are back in action again on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m when Rick Porcello makes his final spring training start against the Minnesota Twins.

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Infielder Marco Hernandez may make the Red Sox roster after all.

Fellow infielder Josh Rutledge, the presumptive 25th man on the Red Sox, suffered a left hamstring strain on Tuesday against the Pirates, according to reporters in Florida, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.

If Rutledge isn’t ready for opening day, Hernandez, a left-handed hitter, may have his crack. 

The question is whether the Sox would be comfortable without a right-handed bat to complement both Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland on the corners. Rutledge was going to give the Sox that right-handed look they sought. (When Hanley Ramirez's shoulder will be healthy enough to play first base is unclear, but isn't expected to be too long.)

Neither Rutledge nor Hernandez has played first base in the majors or minors.

A big-league rookie last year, Hernandez has done decently against lefties at the upper levels of the minors, hitting .328 vs. them at Triple-A Pawtucket last season in 67 at-bats. He hit .315 in 54 at-bats at Pawtucket, with a .318 average against them that season in 88 at-bats for Double-A Portland.

Rutledge is a Rule 5 draft pick who has to remain on the major league 25-man roster the whole season or the Sox risk losing him. Placement on the disabled list doesn’t affect his status unless he’s on the disabled list for a very lengthy time.

An alternative option is Steve Selsky, who has first-base experience, but he's already been optioned.