Surprise! Sox pick Lackey to be No. 2 starter

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Surprise! Sox pick Lackey to be No. 2 starter

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Selecting Jon Lester as his Opening Day starter Wednesday wasn't a surprise at all.

But when Terry Francona filled out the rest of his starting rotation on Thursday morning, some eyebrows were raised.

Following Lester in the rotation to start the season will be, in order, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

The choice of Lackey as the Sox' No. 2 has to be considered at least a mild upset. Conventional wisdom had either Beckett or Buchholz slated for No. 2, with Lackey projected as the fourth starter.

"I think we feel like Lack has a way of matching up with whomever he's pitching against," explained Francona, "whether it's a guy who's No. 1 or No. 5. You look up in the seventh and you have a chance to win, which we really like.

"Buck did so good, I think we feel like having Buck coming out third just enhances our chance to win a little bit. Buck's numbers would say that he can pitch anywhere. I think Lack's a veteran, he's done it. I just think spacing Buchholz and Lester out, there's something to be said for that, too.

"Lack showed up in great shape and looks like he's ready to go. Ultimately, if they pitch like they should, it's not going to matter. And if they don't pitch like they should, it's not going to matter."

Lackey dropped about 15 pounds this offseason and Francona expects an improved performance for Lackey's second season in Boston.

"I think he's worked hard to get in real good shape," said Francona, "and I think it's going to show. I think across the board, his numbers will be a little bit lower this year."

Francona said the incident in which Beckett was hit by a ball earlier this month and missed a turn didn't impact his decision-making.

"I just think, watching the way last year unfolded, we want to get him off to a good start," said Francona of Beckett. "We'll pitch him the first game in Cleveland on April 5. We think that will be a good place to start."

"Those are Francona's decisions," said Beckett. "Just like I would always feel like he would back me up, I back him up on his decision, as well."

When asked if there was a pride factor involved, since he was the No. 1 starter and now, in essense, is the No. 4, Beckett replied: "It is what it is. I don't get paid to make those decisions. Tito makes those decisions. I don't want that job. I never want that job. I'll let him make those decisions and I'll go out and do the best I can to put us in the best position to win."

With the rotation lined up the way it is, Lackey will pitch the home opener against New York on April 8, with Buchholz and Beckett following him in the three-game series.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP


 

Price on his return to Red Sox: ’There’s not a better feeling’

Price on his return to Red Sox: ’There’s not a better feeling’


BOSTON — Red Sox left-hander David Price is set to make his season debut in a holiday matinee Monday on the road in Chicago against the White Sox. 

Price, 31, starting the second season of a $217 million, seven-year contract, has been recovering from a strained pitching elbow since spring training.

“Excited, just to be back here,” he said Thursday. “There’s not a better feeling. You can’t replicate it anywhere else.”

Price allowed nine runs — six earned — and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings in a pair of less-than-impressive injury rehabilitation starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He struck out eight and walked two.

“A lot of pitches, in a short amount of time. I think that is more of a test to being healthy as opposed to going out there and throwing five or six [innings] in 90 pitches,” he said. “To do what I did in both of my rehab outings, I don’t think you can do that if you’re not healthy.”

The Red Sox (24-21) have won four in a row heading into their weekend series against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.

“He’s eager to get back to us and physically he feels great,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “His return to us will give us a definite boost but that’s not to de-emphasize he needs to go out and perform.”

Farrell hopes Price’s return has a trickle-down impact.

“It’s not based solely on the name on the back of his jersey,” Farrell said. “Hopefully it allows us to even out some of the performances within the rotation.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press.