It’s been a long time between starts for Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey—about 18 months in fact. After missing all of 2012 due to elbow surgery, Lackey finally returned to the mound on Saturday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Serving as the number five pitcher in the Red Sox rotation, Lackey was expected to have a great chance at making a strong comeback this season. Saturday’s start began as a solid step in that direction, but disaster struck the right-hander in the fifth inning.
After throwing a wild curve ball to Jose Reyes, Lackey immediately grabbed his right bicep area and appeared to be in severe pain. The 34-year-old came right out of the game and headed directly into the Red Sox clubhouse for treatment and further evaluation.
This was about as unfortunate an injury as the Red Sox could suffer, as Lackey worked very hard in his return from Tommy John surgery and had been pitching very well in the game.
Lackey threw 76 pitches in the outing—50 for strikes. He struck out eight batters in just four and one-third innings, and he walked just one. His only gaffe was a fourth inning curve ball that stayed up in the zone, which Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia quickly deposited into the seats for a two-run homer.
Alfredo Aceves came on in relief for Lackey, and will likely be the early favorite for the vacant starting spot if this injury turns out to be serious.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)