No one really needs to remind John Lackey how his tenure with the Boston Red Sox has played out. A 26-23 record over the first two seasons, then missing all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. When the Red Sox first signed the 34 year old right-hander to a five-year/ $82.5 million deal, hopes were very high to continue his winning ways. After all, this was a guy who, at 23, pitched and won in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series- as a rookie.
Lackey pitched through pain most of 2011, finishing 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA, before having the surgery. That season proved his determination and dedication, to his teammates at least. The Boston fans have yet to really jump on the Lackey bandwagon, and he understands that. He came into spring training an estimated 17 pounds lighter, in tremendous shape, and excited about 2013.
“There’s definitely some motivation,” he said. “I was excited about getting down here. I got down here early and I feel like it’s one of my first couple of years again. The excitement has been pretty cool,” Lackey remarked. Manager John Farrell agreed “It’s almost a fresh start for him physically, but when you look at the way he’s committed and restructured his body, it speaks in confidence when you talk with him one-on-one,” Farrell said.
No doubt about it, the Red Sox need John Lackey to perform this season. If all goes according to plan, Lackey will be one of the starting five for Boston. And he wants to get to the 200 inning plateau, something he has done five times in his MLB career. He also finished 2007 with a 3.01 ERA, tops in the American League. Coming off Tommy John surgery, no one is really expecting that kind of rebound. But the Red Sox without a doubt could use those 200 innings, which translates into a healthy, and winning, John Lackey.
He is obviously looking for more this season than consistent numbers. Lackey added, “…And we want to be back in the playoffs, man. That’s one of the reasons I came over here is for a chance to win. We have a fresh start here and I think that’s everybody’s goal in here.”
His early workouts so far this spring have been controlled, but most importantly, without pain. Which is exactly how John Lackey, and the Red Sox need him to pitch. Healthy and without pain.