NEW YORK, NY: John Lackey #41 of the Boston Red Sox throws a pitch during the bottom of the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
The Red Sox have been without John Lackey in 2012 thanks to Tommy John surgery, but 2013 shouldn't have the same problem. The Boston right-hander is already throwing batting practice sessions, with another coming on Thursday, and is now set to head to instructional league in order to get more pitching in.
Lackey threw 25 batting practice pitches, setting him up for the trip to Florida to throw what Bobby Valentine described as "a couple of innings" in order to get his off-season off on the right foot. Lackey is also a candidate to join the Arizona Fall League when the regular season ends, allowing him time to pitch in a game situation and give both Lackey and the Sox a look at how his elbow responds to live pitching.
Lackey mixed good with horrendous in 2012, posting a 4.13 ERA and 3.4 K/BB in his 12 victories, but getting absolutely pummeled on the days when he and his shredded elbow didn't have it: 8.95 ERA, 1.1 K/BB, and an opponent OPS of 988 in those 12 starts. There were moments where he was productive, and then ones where you were amazed he ever could be productive.
With his elbow surgically repaired, there is likely to be more of the useful bits of Lackey from 2011, or even a return to the 2010 form that saw him throw 215 average innings. That kind of workload might not be in the cards right away, but it all depends on how he feels during instructionals and beyond, heading into 2013.