Lackey enjoys rare warm reception from fans

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Lackey enjoys rare warm reception from fans

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Athletes in general, and baseball players in particular, are very good at closing the book on their last game, turning the page on their previous outing, good or bad. It sounds like a clich, but its what they have to do to be successful.

Still, going into the All-Star break after the outing that John Lackey posted Saturday night against the Orioles has to be encouraging. Lackey went 6 23 scoreless innings against the Orioles, allowing just three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts, along with two hit batters, and two wild pitches. The Red Sox won their fifth in a row and ninth of 10, shutting out the Os, 4-0, Saturday night at Fenway Park.

That was good, said manager Terry Francona. It was fun to watch.

Lackeys outing was drastically different and improved from his previous outing, when he got shellacked by the Blue Jays for seven runs in 2 13 innings on the 4th of July. This has been a trying season for Lackey. He has missed 21 games while on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. He has dealt with personal issues. And its been nearly impossible to predict from one start to the next what his performance will be.

While his season, though, has been nothing if not inconsistent, Lackey said there was not a big difference from a pitching standpoint to his last outing.

Theres a fine line between being good and bad, said Lackey, who improved to 6-8, lowering his ERA to 6.84. I guess I was locating a little better. Honestly, there wasnt a whole lot (of difference). My velocity was good.

As Lackey walked off the mound he was treated to a rousing ovation. In his departure in the Toronto game, he was given a chorus of boos. It was nice, Lackey said of the cheers

The main difference was command of the strike zone, locating his pitches. He threw 106 pitches, 69 for strikes, a 65 percent strike ratio, considerably above the 60 percent threshold that is considered acceptable. In his previous outing, the mark was 57 percent.

I was locating a little bit better, Lackey said. But not a whole lot.

Lackey, who threw his fifth quality start in 14 outings this season, was able to use all his pitches for strikes, including his curveball. Its huge, said Jarrod Saltalamacchia when Lackey is able to get swings and misses with the curveball.

Perhaps Lackey was primed for this kind of outing. In each of his last 15 outings against the Os he has pitched a quality starting, going at least 6 23 innings, as he did Saturday night. Since Aug. 3, 2005, while with the Angels, he is 9-3 with a 2.41 ERA against the Os.

Hopefully I can keep it going, he said.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Sandoval happy to return to the field after shoulder surgery

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Sandoval happy to return to the field after shoulder surgery

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For the first time in months, Pablo Sandoval met up with his Red Sox teammates Wednesday, breaking from his rehab program two hours away in Fort Myers.

Sandoval, who underwent shoulder surgery in April to repair a torn labrum, has been working out six days per week at the club's spring training complex and appeared noticeably lighter.

"I just starting taking ground balls two days ago,'' said Sandoval. "I feel a little better. I'm happy to be back here with my teammates and happy that I'm starting to work in the field.'' 

Sandoval said his surgically repaired left shoulder is "not back to normal, but it's feeling a lot better. I've started doing a lot of things in the field -- ground balls, playing catch, handling the ball, working out.''

He plans to see Dr. James Andrews soon, and hopes to get clearance to start swinging a bat.

Sandoval appeared to make some veiled references to his weight and conditioning, saying "you learn a lot. You learn from all the mistakes you make, all the things in the past. I have good people around me, supporting me every single day.''

He added that he feels "way different'' than he did in spring training.

"Now that I've learned my lesson,'' he said, "I can do a better job out there. Everything out there is not easy. You have to work hard to learn all the things you were doing wrong. I'll keep working hard and do everything I can to be a better person on the field and off the field.''

As he grinds through conditioning and rehab, Sandoval said he's motivated by "my little boy (Leon). Every time I wake up, I want to do everything for (him), so he can see me back on the field, playing baseball.''

He deflected a question when asked what role he envisioned for himself next February at the start of spring training.

"Whatever,'' he said. "I'm just going to do best that I can. I just want to prepare myself to be better next year.''

Sandoval met with John Farrell Wednesday afternoon.

"He's in good spirits,'' Farrell said. "I think he feels good with all the work he's done. To date, he's done a good job with what he's been capable of doing. The one thing that's clear in getting to know Pablo, I see a guy who's got a lot of pride. Maybe things haven't worked out the way he anticipated through the first two years.

"But it's clear through my conversation with him that he's motivated, he feels like he's got a lot to prove. And I think when you combine his ability with the drive and motivation, this has got a chance to prove to be a productive player here in Boston.''

Meanwhile, Sandoval acknowledged that the Red Sox had not seen him at his best in his two seasons with the club.

"I know that I can prove more and do a better job out there,'' he said. "Things happen for a reason. I'm happy, but I'm not satisfied with the things I'm doing. I'm just going to keep working hard, continue my rehab and be better for next year.''

Sandoval said he misses the game, but watches the Red Sox on TV "every single day.''

"This (time down) is a bonus for me,'' he said. "I want to play, but at the same time, I (get) to see my baby growing up.''

 

All signs point to Rodriguez returning to rotation Sunday, Buchholz to bullpen

All signs point to Rodriguez returning to rotation Sunday, Buchholz to bullpen

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It won't be made official until Thursday, but all signs point to Eduardo Rodriguez returning to the Red Sox' starting rotation Sunday night against the Kansas City Royals.

That, in turn, should also result in Clay Buchholz going back to the bullpen after three spot starts recently.

Rodriguez, who pulled himself out of his last scheduled start Sunday in Detroit when he wasn't confident that he could compete with a strained left hamstring, threw a three-inning simulated game Tuesday and emerged from that session convinced that he was heading toward a return to the rotation.

But just to make sure, the Sox want Rodriguez to test himself physically Thursday morning before the Sox complete their road trip with a game here Thursday afternoon.

"He went through some aggressive long toss today,'' said John Farrell of Rodriguez, "and came out that feeling fine, no restrictions in the hamstring. We'll take this each work day at a time. Once we get through tomorrow, we'll have a little bit more clarity going forward.''

Buchholz threw 94 pitches while allowing a run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings Tuesday night, so he wouldn't be available out of the bullpen for a few days.

"He's going to need a couple of days down regardless,'' noted Farrell.

 

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
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Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
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Matt Andriese P