LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The last thing you want to see in spring training is one of your star pitchers diving for grounders and getting stung on the leg with a line drive.
But John Lackey could laugh about it afterward.
In the third inning Jordan Shafer’s bunt was fielded by Lackey in a diving play where he scooped the ball to first base with his glove. He nearly had a collision with Dustin Pedroia on the play but Pedroia backed off.
“I asked him (Pedroia) if he liked that one. He was pretty fired up,” Lackey said.
“If I’d have gone in there and collided, I would have taken the worst of it,” Pedroia said.
“Yes you would have,” agreed Lackey.
Freddie Freeman then hit the liner off Lackey’s thigh.
“I feel fine,” Lackey said. “He got me in the thigh. There’s some meat there.”
On the play, catcher A.J. Pierzynski called for the trainer.
“A.J. was just being funny,” Lackey said. “Nothing happened on that.”
Lackey was also stung for five runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed home runs to Andrelton Simmons and a two-run shot to Dan Uggla. It wasn’t his best outing and now over his last two games he’s allowed 10 runs in 9 2/3 innings.
“I felt fine,” insisted Lackey. “I definitely thought I threw the ball better this time compared to the last time. I definitely had a good bullpen session in between, felt like my slider was better. The last one I threw to Uggla wasn’t a good one. But I got up to 80-something pitches.”
Rather than throttle down as most pitchers do in their last outing, Lackey will continue to throttle up. It was part of the master plan by John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves to start Lackey slowly and build him up right until his first start.
“I’ll just keep going for real,” Lackey said. “I have a night game next time so I’ll get after it a little bit more. I’d like to go into the season not being on a pitch count. Just normal. It’s spring training. I’m not concerned about the numbers just trying to build arm strength.”
Lackey thinks he won’t hit full throttle “for a few more weeks to be honest with you. I’ll be good enough to compete.”
Despite the rocky outing, Lackey was comfortable working with Pierzynski.
“It’s been pretty easy,” Lackey said. “I haven’t shook him off once. We incorporate a new pitch each time. Calls a good game. He’s a good hitter so that helps him game-calling.”
• The Red Sox had three baserunning mishaps, two involving Daniel Nava on a caught-stealing and a pick-off. One came on the front end of what looked like a botched double-steal
“Nava gave two shuffles (with his feet),” explained Red sox manager John Farrell. “When a baserunner crosses over with the intention of taking off, that’s what [Shane Victorino] was reading. As we talked about before with Daniel, we’re trying to get him to be more aggressive on the bases and for him to test those limits a lot more.”
• Farrell was again pleased with the work done by righthander Francisco Cordero, who allowed one hit in his one inning.
“Cordero has done an outstanding job using all his pitches. He’s made the most of the opportunities,” the manager said.
• Farrell refused to officially announce Jon Lester as the Opening Day starter, but he added “count the days, it’s not a secret.”
• Farrell indicated that he thought the team’s game plan of easing pitchers into their spring training workload has worked famously. The starters all seem to be sharp and ready for the start of the season.
Farrell also said he’ll lay out a game plan for the starters for the final few days of camp.
“I like the way our starters have come along early. The work plan has physically agreed with them,” Farrell said.
• Farrell spoke about lefty reliever Craig Breslow going forward. He said Breslow threw to hitters on Friday and “yesterday was a really good day. He was strong, good command of his stuff, but we have to be realistic. Last year you had to take him out of the mix on a given day because he always wants the ball. He would have benefited more by a few more days of rest. We’ll have to make that decision for him.”
If Breslow doesn’t start the season it could open up a spot for Brandon Workman, Cordero, lefty Tommy Layne (who has eight scoreless inning in spring training) or Rich Hill.
• Grady Sizemore has the day off, but he’ll play three days in a row starting Sunday.
• David Ortiz was also given the day off. His contract extension seems to be drawing to a conclusion with a possible announcement soon. Jon Lester’s contract talks are progressing but not as close as have been characterized the past couple of days according to a source close to the talks.
• Finally, there’s talk about the Braves possibly moving out of here soon. Atlanta could consider the Fort Myers/Naples area as a new destination.