Lackey satisfied with rehab start in Pawtucket

Lackey satisfied with rehab start in Pawtucket
June 1, 2011, 5:42 am
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By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

PAWTUCKET, R.I. John Lackey made a rehab appearance for Pawtucket against Norfolk at McCoy Stadium Tuesday night, as he returns from a right elbow strain that has had him on the disabled list since May 12.

Lackey had been scheduled to throw 70 pitches, but he threw 63 (46 strikes) in 5 23 innings against Baltimores Triple-A affiliate. He gave up one run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts.

Lackey was satisfied with his outing since he was able to throw all his pitches. He will rejoin the Red Sox' rotation on Sunday against Oakland.

I felt pretty good, he said. Felt like I had pretty good command, seeing as its been a while since I faced some hitters. So I was encouraged by it, for sure. Elbow felt a lot better than it has before.

Lackey's velocity was in the 90-92-mph range, topping out at 93. He threw a two-inning simulated game May 27, throwing 40 pitches.

It was only like three days ago, he said. So Im happy that I was able to throw that many pitches on that little rest. It was nice.

The main issue with his elbow injury had been his inability to extend, which did not allow him to finish his pitches. Although he was not pain-free and does not expect to be for the rest of his career his extension was much better Tuesday, he said.

I felt like I was letting it go pretty free and easy, said Lackey, who said he felt good enough to make his next big-league start. That was something that I havent been able to do a little bit this season. But it definitely felt a lot better.

The lone run he allowed came on Matt Angles second home run of the season, a third-inning shot to right field.

Just a young kid hitting first-pitch fastball, Lackey said.

Lackey, in the second year of a five-year, 82.5 million contract, last pitched for the Red Sox on May 11, going 6 23 innings in Toronto, giving up nine runs on nine hits and five walks with a strikeout and a home run. He has posted a record of 2-5 with a 8.01 ERA this season.

Lackey threw 19 pitches (14 strikes) in the first inning for the PawSox his highest pitch count in any frame facing four batters. His most efficient inning came in the second, retiring three batters on six pitches (four strikes).

Definitely working on some command stuff in the first, he said. Honestly, as soon as I stepped out there I felt like my arm was feeling good. But I definitely still had to dial in some locations, for sure.

PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler was also satisfied with Lackeys outing.

He did a nice job, Beyeler said. He was down in the zone, threw a lot of strikes and he was very efficient. We were thinking four or five innings and we ended up being able to stretch him out a little bit and get him some extra work. So he did a nice job mixing all of his pitches.

I think he probably accomplished what he wanted to, said one scout in attendance. His command was pretty good. He threw his fastball to both sides of the plate. He was about 90-92 with some 93s in there for velocity. His slider got better later in the game.

Lackey has made rehab starts before in his career. But this one was different, he said, treating it more like a major league start.

Because Im not going to be down here too long, he said. Ive been on the DL before and you get two, three kind of starts and you kind of progress and work on different things. But today I pretty much had to treat it like a real game.

Outfielder Darnell McDonald, on the DL since Thursday with a left quadriceps strain, also began his rehab assignment with the PawSox. Playing center field and batting third, he went 0-for-3 with an RBI. McDonald has just one at-bat since May 5 with the Red Sox.

He hasnt played much, so his timing is off, Beyeler said. But he put the bat on the ball and got a run for us there in a big spot and helped us chip away and get back in the game. I dont expect him to be sharp, thats why hes down here. So he was good. He kind of got a little tired so we got a few at-bats and got him out.

Right-hander Kevin Millwood, who signed a minor-league contract with the Sox earlier this month, joined the PawSox Tuesday. He is expected to start Wednesdays game against the Tides.

Itll be nice to get back out there and kind of see where Im at, Millwood said.

His best-case scenarios?

Tomorrow, just go out, throw the ball well and compete, he said. Obviously, in the long haul, itd be end up in Boston and pitching well. Every outing I have here is going to help me in my way back.

Millwood, who turned 36 in December, is a veteran of 14 major-league seasons. He has a career record of 159-137 with a 4.11 ERA pitching for Atlanta, Texas, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Baltimore. Last season with the Orioles, he posted a record of 4-16, a career-high in losses, with a 5.10 ERA in 31 starts. He signed as a free agent with the Yankees in March, but was granted free agency on May 1 without ever appearing in a major league game.

When the Sox called, it was a good opportunity for me, he said. I was more than willing to stay at home and relax for the summer. When you get a team of this caliber that has some interest and will give me a chance, youre in a better situation.

He expects to throw about 75-80 pitches on Wednesday.

The PawSox won the game, 5-4, in 11 innings. With Mark Worrell pitching for Norfolk, Daniel Navas first home run of the season leading off the 11th tied the score. Brent Dlugach singled to center and took second when Luis Exposito reached on and error by Tides second baseman, and former Sox property, Nick Greens error. Jose Iglesias sacrifice bunt sent Dlugach to third. An intentional walk to Nate Spears loaded the bases. After Che-Hsuan Lin popped out to left for the second out, Tony Thomas single to left scored Dlugach with the winning run.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen