FORT MYERS, Fla. — While the Red Sox pitchers were getting taken deep seven times at City of Palms Park, John Lackey also allowed a home run. Except, while the Sox were playing the Rays, Lackey was in a much more low-key setting, pitching to Sox minor leaguers at the player development complex.
One of those minor leaguers — Daniel Nava — hit a home run to left field off Lackey. Not only was it the first home run Lackey had allowed of the spring, it was the first run.
“Got one out of the way,” Lackey said, of giving up a run. “Honestly, it’s kind of good, because it’s going to happen. It’s good to get that feeling, get back in the strike zone and get the next guy out.”
Lackey threw 68 pitches (46 strikes) over five innings of work. He allowed three hits, struck out six batters, and no walks. Lackey still hasn’t walked a batter over his 14 innings so far this spring.
“That’s my game,” he said. “Especially coming over here to the East, you can’t walk people. guys are such good hitters, you’re going to give up hits. If you give them baserunners, that’s when those hits are really magnified.”
Though Lackey said the adrenaline wasn’t exactly flowing, as it is in a normal game, he was glad to get his work in and locate the ball well. He continued to get his pitch count higher, which is his goal for the rest of the spring.
He threw his slider more than he has been, and was pleased with his breaking stuff in particular (slider and curveball). The righthander has been building up more gradually than he has in past spring trainings, after having been injured in his last two.
“I’ve definitely scaled back a few things,” he said. “I haven’t thrown quite so much this spring training between starts. I’m kind of saving a few bullets. But definitely feel like I’m where I need to be for right now. Got to the pitch count, so keep moving forward.”
As for that home run, Lackey said he can understand what that might mean for a minor leaguer, to hit one out off of him.
“I don’t really look at myself that way. It’s kind of weird,” he said. “But I remember being on the other side of it. I’m sure he’ll go call his dad or something.”