By Sean McAdam
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Heavy rain up and down Florida's Gulf Coast wreaked havoc with the Red Sox' plans on their next-to-last day in the state.
John Lackey had been scheduled to start the team's final road game of the Grapefruit League season, but with torrential rain falling in Fort Myers shortly after 7 a.m. and heavy rain expected 125 or so miles away in Dunedin, the Sox pulled the plug on that plan.
The last thing the Sox wanted was to have Lackey (and starting catcherJarrod Saltalamachia) ride five hours round trip on the bus and not gettheir work in.
Instead, the Sox had Lackey pitch a five-inning simulated game at the team's minor-league complex, with hitters standing in -- but no fielders behind him.
Over five "innings," Lackey got his pitch count up to 74 pitches, 47 of them strikes.
Lackey is scheduled to start the second game of the season, Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
In the same complex, the Sox got an inning of relief work for both Daniel Bard (13 pitches, 10 strikes) and Jonathan Papelbon (21 pitches, 9 for strikes).
The Red Sox mercifully snapped their 10-game losing streak, the longest spring training skid in franchise history, with a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays.
Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker belted a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to propel the Sox to a victory that was cut short by rain in the middle of the seventh inning.
"It's funny, but I don't think most of the major league players knew about the streak because they play and leave before the game is over,'' said Francona.
Of Hazelbaker's homer, Francona said: "It looks like he's getting stronger. To see that swing, I'd take that long bus ride anyday. That ball came off his bat good."
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, under fire for remarks he made about the Red Sox and GM Theo Epstein, called Epstein Sunday night and apologized.
In the April issue of Men's Journal, Showalter questioned whether Epstein would be as successful an executive without a big-market payroll and said he took particular pleasure beating the Red Sox with a smaller payroll last season.
"I just felt like I need to call him,'' Showalter told reporters Monday morning. "It just caused the Red Sox to sit around and answer questions or whatever, so I spoke to both Epstein and Terry Francona.''