Alright, let's get this over with.
John Lackey is not the most beloved baseball player Boston has ever seen. During his time with the Angels, occasional rivals of the Boston Red Sox, he earned the ire of plenty of fans by combining strong results with his...emotive...nature. Then he came to Boston on a questionably large deal, and committed the ultimate sin of losing the Red Sox games.
He wasn't as bad as he sometimes gets credit for in 2010. It took him a while to find his rhythm, but once he got going he managed to put together a pretty decent second half. Then 2011 came, and Lackey managed to put together one of the worst seasons in team history, capping it off with Tommy John surgery.
Since then we haven't seen him pitch in the regular season--something for which we are, by and large, thankful. With Opening Day just two weeks away, however, John Lackey is healthy, and ready to make his return to the rotation.
Some things do have to be acknowledged. John Lackey is in far better shape than we've ever seen. Aside from his oddly resilient face, he looks like a whole new man. Of course, he dropped some weight going into his awful 2011, and that didn't help him any then. And if Lackey's results so far in spring have been atrocious, it is worth noting that's not unexpected since he's just making his way back from Tommy John, and mostly using this time to get back in the swing of things.
That being said, it's been four years since John Lackey has had a good season on the mound, and Red Sox fans don't have much reason to give him the benefit of the doubt at this point. If you can find it in yourself to be optimistic, all the power to you. But don't be surprised to find yourself with little company.