ST. LOUIS -- Three things we learned last night, when the Red Sox lost to the Cardinals, 3-2:
1) World Series ring aside, John Lackey never enjoyed Boston
That much was evident in his conversation with the Boston media Tuesday afternoon.
Lackey was defensive and even mildly combative when asked about his 4 1/2 seasons with the Red Sox, claiming the media was trying to "stir things up'' with their line of questioning.
Lackey made it clear that he had assured the Cardinals he would honor his 2015 contract, which, due to a clause he agreed upon, calls for him to be paid the major-league minimum after missing all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery.
But when asked if he had been ready to make that same commitment to the Red Sox had he stayed, Lackey wavered. And when asked about that contradition -- a willingless to play for the minimum in St. Louis, but not Boston -- Lackey turned churlish.
St. Louis is indeed a better environment for Lackey. It's less intense, with far less media coverage. That suits him fine.
But it's worth remembering that, after more than six seasons in the big leagues, Lackey presumably knew what he was getting into in Boston when he signed his five-year, $82.5 million deal in late 2009.
If he wanted a more laid-back, low-pressure environment, he surely knew that wasn't to be found in Boston. But he signed anyway, then seemed surprised at what he found.
That's on him and no one else.
2) Xander Bogaerts is comfortable again at shortstop
For whatever reason, Bogaerts never seemed sure of himself in the six or so weeks that he manned third base upon the return of Stephen Drew. He sometimes tried to range too far toward short to cut off balls. Or he wouldn't set himself properly for throws to first.
But in the five games he's played since returning to short, Bogaerts looks more natural, more relaxed.
His actions are smooth and fluid. There's been no hestitation with his throws and he's turned some nice double plays, as though he's been playing the position the position without interruption.
Of course, to date, it hasn't helped him at the plate. Bogaerts saw his offensive game dip significantly when he went from short to third, and when he was moved back last week, the hope was that the hitting would benefit, too. So far, that hasn't been the case.
There's little doubt about Bogaerts' offensive abilities. What the Sox need to find out over the final seven weeks of the season is whether he can handle a critical defensive position for them.
If that gets established in August and September and the Sox know that shortstop is secure heading into next year, that will be one less thing for them to worry about this winter.
3) The Red Sox could have damaged goods on their hands with Allen Craig
Craig was hampered much of the second half of last year with a left foot/ankle injury. Four months into this season, he still isn't the same.
After one game, he's on the DL, having re-injured the foot when he rolled it a bit on the first base bag last Friday night at Fenway.
This has been something that's lingered more than a year now with Craig and could well explain his sub-par numbers at the plate this season.
A number of people in the game thought it odd that the Cardinals would willingly part with Craig, who was under control to St. Louis for three more seasons after this one. Did the Cardinals know that Craig's foot could limit him in the long term, that the drop-off at the plate was a sign of things to come?
The Red Sox, of course, has access to Craig's medicals before signing off on the deal, so they didn't enter into this blindly. But it's not a good sign when, after one game, Craig is sidelined and there's no clarity on how long he's going to be out or how serious this latest setback is.