Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Mlb-red-sox-tigers-may
John Lackey ran into some third-inning trouble and wasn’t exactly overpowering, but the right-hander once again took another step forward in his fourth start of the spring on Sunday. Lackey allowed two runs on four hits, walked one and struck out two while throwing 66 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. With the outing, the 34-year-old has now twirled 9 2/3 innings this spring, and he’s allowed six runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out four. Those numbers aren’t exactly ace-like, but it’s hard to complain when the pitcher in question has endured his fair share of struggles in recent years and is coming off a missed season because of Tommy John surgery. It’s even harder to complain when you factor in the gradual progress that Lackey has seemed to make in each of his starts. Lackey’s first start was all about clearing the mental hurdle of returning the mound. He admitted after that two-inning outing that he was simply trying to get the ball over the plate, and the idea of mixing up his pitches was far from his mind. Four starts later, the more intricate details are beginning to seep into Lackey’s approach, and the result has been a rather impressive arsenal, all things considered. Lackey worked both sides of the plate well on Sunday, and his offspeed stuff was as good as it’s been all spring. He did get touched up a bit in the second inning as a result of giving up three straight singles and a walk, but even in the process, he didn’t look all that bad. One hit was a groundball up the middle that just trickled past the infield, and another was a groundball into the hole between shortstop and third base that Pedro Ciriaco made a play on but couldn’t turn into an out. Will Lackey need to improve on the overall results going forward? Absolutely. But at this point, with three weeks to go before Opening Day, he looks comfortable, which is really more than can be said for most — if not all — of the righty’s Red Sox tenure. A step here, and step there: that’s really the best way to summarize Lackey’s spring thus far. And you know what? That’s all right for now, as it could set him up for better things when the contests start counting for real. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Jim Harbaugh to Michigan is done deal

Amari Cooper not a fan of New Orleans, thinks it smells

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence does Louisville chant at game

WATCH: Did Bret Bielema do ‘Horns Down’ gesture?

Devils unveil unique coaching by committee situation

Report: 49ers expect Jim Harbaugh to take Michigan job

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Johnny Manziel fined for being late to treatment

Duke Johnson's mother says son will enter NFL Draft

Starlin Castro questioned following nightclub shooting

Report: Jeff Driskel thinking about transfer to Duke

Browns suspend Josh Gordon for final game of season

Report: Rex Ryan has already cleaned out his office

WATCH: Nebraska safety pukes on field, keeps playing

WATCH: Nyquist holds puck for 28 seconds, scores OT winner

WATCH: Kevin Garnett blows in David West's ear

WATCH: Frank Beamer busts a move after bowl win

Bears could clean house after season

Nebraska chancellor booed by Huskers players?

WATCH: Rory McIlroy trolled by 'Sweet Caroline' song

Auburn, Wisconsin players literally ate tons of food

Did Kobe Bryant respond to heckler with the rings count?

Doug Fister bought Starbucks for his Twitter followers

DeMarco Murray dumped over cheating accusations?

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Amari Cooper not a fan of New Orleans

Harbaugh to Mich. is done deal

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence supports Louisville with chant

Did Bielema do ‘Horns Down’?

WATCH: Beamer busts a move

Bears could clean house after season

Nebraska chancellor booed by players?

Johnny Manziel fined by Browns

Castro questioned after shooting

Rory McIlroy trolled with 'Sweet Caroline'

Browns suspend Josh Gordon

Kobe gives heckler the rings count?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.