TORONTO — In his first game in the majors, back in 2002, John Lackey gave up a home run to Alex Rodriguez. Years later, Rodriguez admitted that he used performance-enhancing drugs during that season.
Now Lackey will likely face Rodriguez on Saturday when he starts against the Yankees. Once again, his drug use is an issue.
Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games on Aug. 5. Major League Baseball said at the time it had evidence Rodriguez used numerous forms of PEDs over multiple years.
Rodriguez has yet to deny baseball’s findings but appealed his punishment and has since played nine games for the Yankees, hitting .278 with one home run and four RBIs.
Lackey doesn’t believe it’s fair Rodriguez is on the field.
“I’ve got a problem with it. You bet I do,” Lackey told the Globe on Thursday. “How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right. … It’s pretty evident he’s been doing stuff for a lot of years I’ve been facing him.”
Lackey said the topic is one that comes up frequently in the Red Sox clubhouse, especially among the pitchers.
“Sure, we talk about it,” he said. “But talking to the media about it is a little bit different. People have strong feelings. He took me deep the first time I faced him as a rookie and he admitted to doing stuff back then. There are a lot of things I want back from him.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell deflected questions about whether Rodriguez should be on the field.
“He has every right to appeal it, which he is. We know he’s going to be in the lineup and we’ll prepare accordingly. The process he’s going through is well within his rights. They’re in place for a reason and you can’t argue that.”
As a competitor, is Farrell upset his team has to face a player who has apparently been cheating for years? The Sox have 39 games remaining, 10 against the Yankees. Rodriguez could have a significant impact on the pennant race.
“I understand what you’re getting at. But he being on the field is out of our hands,” Farrell said. “Until completely proven guilty, this is what we’re dealing with.”
See the Globe on Friday for more on how the Red Sox feel about facing A-Rod this weekend.