McAdam: Lackey's issues go beyond the mound

434962.jpg

McAdam: Lackey's issues go beyond the mound

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

TORONTO - He had been tagged for nine runs on 10 hits, lurching through his start before finally imploding in the seventh inning when the game quickly went from a one-run contest to a one-sided laugher for the Toronto Blue Jays.

It marked the fourth time in seven starts that he had given up at least six runs, but as John Lackey turned around in front of his locker to answer questions, the poor outing seemed like the least of his concerns.

On the mound, Lackey had been even more demonstrable than usual, shaking his head in disbelief when he disagreed with home plate umpire Gary Darling's ball-and strike calls even when, as was the case most times, his outrage seemed misplaced.

His habit for throwing his hands up in the air when balls got through the infield or found open space in the outfield was seemingly more acute than usual. When Jose Bautista's liner in the seventh hit the wall on the fly, nowhere near where Carl Crawford had positioned himself, his disgust was somewhat understandable if unnecessarily showy; when he registered the same anger after a bullet off the bat of John McDonald shot past a diving Kevin Youkilis just inside the third-base bag, the demonstration seemed ridiculous and self-pitying.

And now, taking questions, Lackey continued to lash out and point fingers.

Asked to evaluate his start, Lackey rolled his eyes and snapped: "Come on, man, ask a damn question."

Commenting on the five-run seventh which featured two walks and two base hits after two were out he noted: "Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. That's pretty much the story of the whole damn year."

Later, told that Terry Francona had said that he wanted to leave Lackey in to face McDonald because the pitcher had had success against the veteran infielder in the past, Lackey said: "Everybody's had success with him in the past. You can't give hits to him when you've got other guys in the lineup that can hurt you."

That stinging assessment of McDonald, a journeyman infielder, represented a serious breach of baseball etiquette and violated a code in which players seldom, if ever, mock an opponent's ability.

He recounted the fourth inning when, after allowing a homer to McDonald on an 2-and-0 pitch, "I gave up a single to Rajai Davis and the guy scores on no other hits."

That represented either a bit of revisionist history or a jab at catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia - or both.

What Lackey conveniently neglected to mention was that Davis had swiped second despite a pitchout and strong throw from Saltalamacchia, a sure sign that the steal was the result of Davis getting a huge jump on the pitcher.

After Davis stole third, too, Lackey couldn't keep the ball in the infield as Yunel Escobar delivered a sacrfice fly, scoring Davis.

But after denigrating McDonald and pointing fingers at teammates, the most troubling comment from Lackey came at the end of his session with reporters when he concluded: "Everything in my life sucks right now."

One reporter, seeking clarification, asked Lackey if he was okay. Lackey at first seemed puzzled by the query, then shifted to anger, warning reporters of the consequences if they chose to pursue off-the-field questions.

(In spring training, it was reported that Lackey's wife, Krista, was diagnosed with breast cancer.)

Saltalamacchia, for his part, maintained that Lackey didn't seem distracted by anything on the mound.

"I've never seen him this focused and this determined," Saltalamacchia said. "He wanted it. Every inning in the dugout he was talking to me and feeling good."

But that depiction seemed at odds with the rest of the night, with Lackley alternately defensive and aggressive, self-pitying and accusatory.

Nearly a quarter of the way through his season, Lackey's ERA is a bloated 8.01, among the highest of any starter taking a regular turn in either league.

But to watch and listen to him Wednesday night was to come away with the distinct impression that poor pitching is merely a symptom of some larger issues.

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

Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start

red-sox-eduardo-rodriguez-030216.jpg

Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start

CHICAGO -- Eduardo Rodriguez's return to the Red Sox rotation is going to take a little while longer.

Rodriguez will make at least one more rehab start for Pawtucket Sunday before the Red Sox re-assess his progress.

There had been some thought that Rodriguez would need only two outings on his rehab assignment. But the decision was made Wednesday to give him at least one more.

Rodriguez had a good outing for Pawtucket Tuesday night, allowing three runs on five hits in six innings of work.

All three runs came in the first inning, after which he showed improvement. "From the second to the sixth innings,'' said Farrell, "they were probably more crisp, more sharp. Looking for that to continue to advance."

Rodriguez, too, said he felt better than he did the first time out, when he allowed three runs in just 3 2/3 innings.

"I feel more control of the ball,'' he said. "I feel more comfortable throwing the ball in the game. Physically, I feel fine. I just see how everything goes every day like bullpens, running and everything. I just want to get back as fast as I can. But I want to get back 100 percent, I don't want to get back at 70 percent and go out there and don't do like I normally do."

Rodriguez, of course, has missed the first month of the season after tweaking his knee at the beginning of spring training.

"The first start I made in Pawtucket,'' recalled Rodriguez, ''I was thinking too much on my knee. Every pitch I'm throwing, I'm thinking like 'Don't push too much,' but (Tuesday) night it was every pitch I'm throwing just thinking of the game and not my knee."

After throwing 84 pitches Tuesday night, the Red Sox want him to get his pitch count over 90 in his next outing.

''I think with each outing he's getting, he's gaining more confidence and feeling more maybe natural and free on the mound," Farrell said.

 

Tonight's lineups: Red Sox at White Sox

red-sox-logo-110415.jpg

Tonight's lineups: Red Sox at White Sox

The Red Sox face a left-hander -- Carlos Rondon, in this case -- for the second night in a row as they play the middle game of their three-night series in Chicago against the White Sox.

The lineups:

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Chris Young LF
Travis Shaw 1B
Josh Rutledge 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
---
Clay Buchholz P

WHITE SOX:
Adam Eaton RF
Jimmy Rollins SS
Jose Abreu 1B
Todd Frazier 3B
Melky Cabrera LF
Brett Lawrie 2B
Jerry Sands DH
Dioner Navarro C
Austin Jackson CF
---
Carlos Rondon P

Jeter: Sox fans 'softer' and 'treat me better' after winning three titles

monster_jeter_fenway_092814.jpg

Jeter: Sox fans 'softer' and 'treat me better' after winning three titles

There was a time not too long ago when the New York Yankees would fear for their lives when they came into Boston.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that serious.

But go back to the early 2000s and the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees was about as heated as could be.

On one side was the Evil Empire: George Steinbrenner, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens,etc. On the other was the Red Sox: Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, etc.

Those were the days.

Then the Red Sox came back from three games down in the 2004 ALCS, beat the Yankees, and went on to win the World Series. Then they won the World Series again in 2007. And again in 2013.

All that winning changed the narrative around here. The frustration and anger of  years of disappointment was replaced by joy.

Welcome to Friendly Fenway.

Suddenly, players like Jeter could come to town and even go out to dinner without being heckled by diehard Sox fans.

On Late Night with Seth Meyers, Jeter told Meyers -- a Red Sox fan -- about how Sox fans have gone soft since their team started winning.
    
“It doesn’t happen anymore,” he said about being heckled outside Fenway. “I can say this now because I’m retired. Boston fans have softened up since you guys have won. It pains me to say it, but . . . I won’t say it. I’m not happy you won. But you treat me a lot better since you won.”