8 a.m. ET: More than 18 months later, he’s back at it.
John Lackey, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, will get his first start of the season on Saturday. He last toed the rubber on Sept. 25, 2011. That outing capped off a dismal two-year stretch for Lackey, and leaves him seeking redemption in 2013.
Lackey enters this season with high aspirations. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in, and he looks, sounds and, according to him, feels more confident. Most importantly, though, he’s healthy, and that’s something he hasn’t been in quite some time.
While all of this is nice, Lackey’s return to the mound will do nothing to please Red Sox fans if he can’t prove to be a valuable contributor. Lackey doesn’t need to be lights out, but the hope is that he can give the Sox respectable innings at the back end of the rotation.
Lackey’s first test with come against the offensively gifted Blue Jays, who the Red Sox defeated in the series opener on Friday night. While the Sox have jumped out to a 3-1 start, the Jays have stumbled to a 1-3 record to begin the season. With expectations extremely high north of the border, they’ll need to turn things around before long, and it’ll be J.A. Happ tasked with trying to get Toronto moving in the right direction on Saturday.
If Friday was any indication, the crowd at Rogers Centre will certainly be hostile, especially toward Red Sox manager — and former Blue Jays manager — John Farrell. Farrell’s return to Toronto on Friday was sweet, as the Red Sox toppled the Jays 6-4 behind home runs from Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks, but it’s time to get back to work.
Be sure to catch all of the Saturday’s game action on NESN. The game’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. ET, and coverage on NESN will begin at noon ET.