John Lackey exited his first and only start of 2013 with a bicep injury, but he's already working his way back to the Red Sox. On Thursday, Lackey will throw off of a mound for the first time since sustaining the injury, and, according to Brian MacPherson, could pitch a simulated game or make a rehab start as soon as next week.
While initially believed to be a tear, Lackey's MRI revealed only inflammation. He went on the DL when the area was tight during throwing, though, and because of this, Alfredo Aceves has made two starts in his place. Lackey's DL stint was retroactive to April 7, so he's eligible to return on Monday, April 22. It's more likely that Aceves will make one more start in his place, though, and that Lackey will, barring a setback, return to the mound for the Red Sox the turn after that, before the conclusion of April.
While Lackey was a disaster on the mound in 2011, he was pitching through an elbow injury that worsened until he underwent Tommy John surgery that off-season. His April 6 start against the Blue Jays was his first since the end of the 2011 season, so there were initial concerns that his injury was related to a problem with his procedure. If he gets through these sessions pain free, though, and is able to return to the mound without any further health problems, then those fears can be allayed.
Aceves has done well enough in Lackey's absence, giving up five runs over two starts and 10 innings, but as he reminded everyone on Wednesday, he's not a real answer in the rotation. His arm is rubber out of the bullpen, but lengthy starts are a different story entirely. It'll be good for Boston when Lackey returns, especially if he can pitch as well as he did during his first start. Just, you know, without the injury-shortened part of things.