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Red Sox notebook

Sounding out Lackey

Club seeks source for his struggles

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 14, 2011

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The Red Sox met with righthander John Lackey yesterday, trying to determine how best to help him through the problems that have led to his poor start.

Lackey is 2-5 with an 8.01 earned run average. He gave up 17 earned runs on 19 hits and eight walks over 10 2/3 innings in his last two starts.

“Everything in my life [stinks] right now, to be honest with you,’’ he said Wednesday after giving up nine runs against Toronto.

That performance and his comments led to a meeting at Yankee Stadium that included general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona. Head athletic trainer Mike Reinold also participated.

“We’ve talked to Lack. We try to talk to everybody. I do think some of the things have to be a little bit personal,’’ Francona said.

Lackey revealed in spring training that his wife, Krista, was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. But the Sox also wanted to check with Lackey to make sure his poor performance on the mound was not related to an injury.

“Obviously, you look deeper and deeper when you don’t get the kind of results you’re looking for,’’ Epstein said. “Those aren’t things that are going to be discussed publicly, but the pitching coach and others are working on it every day to try to put guys in a position to succeed. Rest assured there’s a lot of work being done on a lot of different fronts to improve this club. Obviously, that’s one of the fronts.’’

In terms of how Lackey has pitched, the results are discouraging. He has allowed 53 hits and 18 walks over 39 1/3 innings and has just 19 strikeouts.

“His stuff has been inconsistent. His velocity has been there more early in his starts,’’ Epstein said. “Overall, he was throwing the ball better in spring training than he has so far this year. But it’s still early. All that means is he has some things to work on.’’

Lackey did not make himself available to reporters before last night’s game. He threw a side session in the bullpen and is scheduled to face Baltimore Tuesday.

Kalish improving Outfielder Ryan Kalish, one of the organization’s best prospects, has responded well to rest and rehabilitation and will likely avoid surgery on his left shoulder.

Kalish, 23, was injured while making a diving catch April 21 and has been shut down since. Team doctor Tom Gill examined him yesterday.

“There’s no timetable in terms of when he’ll play again, but he’s doing much better,’’ Epstein said. “It’s going in the right direction.’’

Tuesday, Kalish played catch for the first time since his injury and has started doing hitting drills with his right hand. Kalish will head to the team facility in Fort Myers, Fla., to pick up the pace on his rehab.

Jenks not close Righthanded reliever Bobby Jenks has been on the disabled list since May 5 with biceps tendinitis. He is not close to going on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

“Not yet,’’ Francona said. “Normally, time down without throwing, you’ve got to take that time to get ramped up again. He’s not quite there yet. We want him to be completely symptom-free before he starts throwing.’’

Busy schedule Last night was the first of 20 games in 20 days for the Sox. Francona and pitching coach Curt Young have been judicious in their use of the starters in recent weeks, monitoring pitch counts and innings and working in extra days off.

“There’s times in the season when you don’t have the ability to manipulate the rotation. We did, so we did it. We’ll certainly keep an eye on it,’’ Francona said.

Francona also mentioned the possibility of working Tim Wakefield into the rotation to give the starters a day off.

Minor melee As the Sox and Yankees faced off in the Bronx, their low Class A teams were playing, too, and getting into a brawl. Greenville starter Miguel Celestino hit Charleston leadoff hitter Slade Heathcott with a pitch. The Yankees prospect then punched catcher Christian Vazquez, clearing the benches . . . And how did Red Sox rookie Jose Iglesias spend his day off in New York? He took in a Broadway show. “I saw ‘The Lion King,’ ’’ he said. “It was great. This is a fun city.’’ . . . The Yankees made a move before the game, demoting righthanded reliever Buddy Carlyle to Triple A Scranton and calling up righthander Hector Noesi as bullpen depth. Noesi has been scheduled to start for Scranton . . . Adrian Gonzalez has hit safely in seven straight games (13 of 31) with 6 homers and 10 RBIs. His 31 RBIs lead the American League . . . Jacoby Ellsbury (2 for 5) has hit safely in 20 of the last 21 games at .362 . . . The Red Sox have won 10 of the last 15 games against the Yankees . . . Carl Crawford had an 11-game hit streak snapped, but did drive in a run.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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