Lackey has solid rehab outing
He gives up 1 run over 5 2/3 innings
PAWTUCKET, R.I. — If John Lackey could pitch against American League batters as effectively as he pitched last night against the International League’s Norfolk Tides, one major concern about Boston’s starting rotation would be left in the rear-view mirror.
Lackey went on the disabled list May 12 with a right elbow strain soon after he was lit up by Toronto for nine earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. But in last night’s rehab start for Pawtucket, he rendered Norfolk’s bats as useless as toothpicks.
In 5 2/3 innings, he allowed one run on three hits with zero walks and four strikeouts as the PawSox beat Norfolk, 5-4, in 11 innings. Lackey threw 46 of 63 pitches for strikes and topped out at 94 miles per hour on McCoy Stadium’s radar gun.
“I felt like I had pretty good command, especially since it’s been a while since I’ve faced hitters,’’ Lackey said. “I was encouraged by it. The elbow felt a lot better than it has been feeling, for sure. Cortisone’s a beautiful thing, I guess.
“I felt I was letting it go pretty free and easy, which was something I haven’t been able to do this season.’’
Lackey was able to use his entire repertoire.
“I pretty much threw everything,’’ he said. “I pitched like it was a regular game. I’ve never been a huge velocity guy. I’ve got to locate things and work off that.
“I’m happy that I was able to throw that many pitches on that little rest [he threw 40 pitches last Friday in a simulated game]. Seeing hitters was important, as was throwing more breaking pitches, more changeups, and more realistic game stuff.’’
How realistic is it that Lackey will join the Red Sox and pitch Sunday against Oakland at Fenway Park?
“I feel pretty good about it, but it’s up to them,’’ he said. “But I’ll be ready to go.’’
The most pitches Lackey threw in one inning was 19 in the first.
“I was working on some command stuff,’’ he said. “Honestly, as soon as I stepped out there, my arm was feeling good but I definitely still had to dial in some location.’’
Lackey encountered only one speed bump, in the third when Matt Angle pulled a 93-mile-per-hour fastball into the right-center-field seats for a two-out homer.
“It was a young kid hitting a first-pitch fastball,’’ Lackey said. “I had some first-pitch outs. But that’s part of being a big league guy coming down here. Young guys like to hack on you when you come here.’’
Lackey didn’t allow any other Tides to advance as far as second base, and only three others reached first.
Rhyne Davis hit a sinking liner to center that fell in for a second-inning leadoff single, but he was erased when Lackey induced Blake Davis to ground into a 3-6-3 double play.
In the fifth, Brendan Harris lined a one-out single to center but Lackey fanned former Red Sox infielder Nick Green and retired Michel Hernandez on a grounder to third.
Darnell McDonald, who was placed on the 15-day DL May 26 with a strained left quadriceps, began a 20-day rehab assignment in Pawtucket. He batted third and played center field.
In four at-bats against lefthander Mike Ballard, McDonald grounded to second, struck out, grounded to short, and was hit by a pitch.