Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 2/23/13
8 a.m. ET: John Lackey will hope to clear another hurdle on Saturday, when the Red Sox play host to the Rays at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. Lackey missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he’ll return to the mound on Saturday as Boston kicks off its 2013 Grapefruit League slate. The right-hander looks to be in great shape this spring, and he’s as confident as ever that he can change the negative reputation he’s gained among many Red Sox fans since signing a lucrative deal prior to the 2010 season. It’s time for Lackey to really get down to work, and although he’s only scheduled to pitch one inning, Saturday’s start could be a huge step in terms of recovering mentally from a lost 2012. “Typically, coming back from Tommy John, the last hurdle is that mental hurdle,” manager John Farrell told reporters Friday. “Part of it is the aggressiveness to which you pitch, the anticipated results and then ultimately, how do you feel every fifth day over the course of a month. But [Lackey's] starting from a good place right now. [Saturday is] a significant day for him, and certainly for us as we form this rotation going through camp.” Farrell said that Lackey will be on a five-day rotation for the rest of the spring, and the righty will add 15-18 pitches per outing — or one additional inning — as we inch toward Opening Day. The Red Sox took care of business against their collegiate foes on Thursday, besting Northeastern and Boston College during their twinbill. The Sox will now get things going against major league competition, though, and fortunately, NESN has you covered every step of the way. Saturday’s game will be televised live on NESN, beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET. Be sure to tune in and follow along with NESN.com’s live blog throughout the day for additional commentary, analysis and maybe even a dash of randomness from time to time.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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