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Red Sox notebook

Lackey put on disabled list

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 17, 2011

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Red Sox manager Terry Francona spoke at length about John Lackey during his media briefing at 4 p.m. yesterday, discussing the changes to his mechanics made with pitching coach Curt Young and the productive bullpen session the righthander had in New York on Sunday.

“I think Lack felt really good about himself after his side the other day,’’ Francona said. “They’ve been working on some delivery things that all pitching coaches do. It’s always a constant work in progress.’’

A few minutes later, Lackey ventured into the rain and played catch with teammate Jon Lester.

“Fine,’’ Lackey said when asked how he felt upon returning to the clubhouse.

But just before last night’s 8-7 win over the Orioles, the Sox placed Lackey on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 12 with a strained right elbow.

Righthanded reliever Scott Atchison was recalled from Triple A Pawtucket.

Atchison arrived at the Sox clubhouse at 3:35 p.m. with an equipment bag. But when Francona was asked whether the team had made a roster move, he claimed there was a miscommunication.

“He actually was picking something up,’’ Francona said. “I didn’t even see him. I heard he was here.’’

Lackey had been scheduled to start tonight. He was replaced by Tim Wakefield.

Lackey is 2-5 with an 8.01 earned run average over seven starts. He has allowed 53 hits and 18 walks over 39 1/3 innings and struck out just 19. In his last two starts, against the Angels and Blue Jays, Lackey lasted 10 2/3 innings and gave up 17 earned runs on 19 hits and eight walks.

He has allowed six or more earned runs in four starts and has the second-highest ERA in baseball among pitchers with at least four starts.

Lackey seemed demoralized after surrendering nine runs in 6 2/3 innings against Toronto last Wednesday.

“Everything in my life [stinks] right now, to be honest with you,’’ he said.

Lackey was believed to be referring to his wife Krista and her ongoing battle with breast cancer. Lackey, Francona, and general manager Theo Epstein met in New York last Friday to discuss his personal situation and performance on the mound.

Lackey is 16-16 with a 4.95 ERA in 40 starts with the Sox since he signed a five-year, $82.5 million free agent contract before the 2010 season. The team is 18-22 in games Lackey has started.

The contract includes language that would give the Sox a team option for 2015 at the league minimum salary if Lackey were to miss significant time from 2010-14 following surgery for a preexisting elbow condition.

It seems unlikely that this DL trip will lead to that clause being triggered. More likely, the Sox were seeking a reason for Lackey to step back from his problems on and off the field and work in a less-pressurized environment before returning.

Atchison has pitched well in Pawtucket, with a 1.25 ERA over 12 appearances and 23 strikeouts and one walk over 21 2/3 innings. Prior to replacing Daisuke Matsuzaka in the fifth inning of last night’s game, he had appeared in one game for the Red Sox this season, allowing three runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings in relief of Lackey May 5.

He was designated for assignment the next day but cleared waivers and returned to Pawtucket.

Last night Atchison worked 1 2/3 innings, with the Orioles touching him for three hits, a walk, and a run.

Scutaro being smart Infielder Marco Scutaro, who went on the DL May 8 with a strained rig cage muscle on his left side, is ready to start swinging a bat.

While the Sox were on the road, Scutaro was home in Miami receiving treatment. He started increasing his activities yesterday at Fenway and hopes to soon start swinging.

“I can’t even really tell [how I feel] until I start swinging. I don’t feel anything just when I move, only when I sneeze,’’ Scutaro said. “But I didn’t do anything for all last week, so from today on, I’m going to start doing activities, and we’ll go from there.’’

Scutaro is wary about pushing too hard too early.

“I’ve never had this injury before, and they told me to be real careful with that because you think you’re good and then all of a sudden you just do a swing and you’re hurt again,’’ he said. “So that’s why I didn’t want to play through stuff like that. They said if you really mess it up, it’s going to be like two months. It’s still early, so let’s be a little smart.’’

Tazawa ready to start Righthander Junichi Tazawa, who has been in extended spring training recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery, was assigned to Single A Salem and will start Friday at Winston-Salem. Tazawa, 24, had surgery on April 6, 2010. Pitchers typically need a year after such a procedure before they return to competition. The Sox have been conservative with Tazawa given his age and lack of experience . . . NESN broadcaster Jerry Remy was back in the booth for the first time since April 26. He had been out with pneumonia.

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

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