John Lackey, the Red Sox’ embattled fifth starter, looks probable to return on Sunday afternoon against the lowly Houston Astros. Lackey injured his right bicep in his first start of the season, facing the Toronto Blue Jays. He looked sharp in his season debut, striking out eight and walking only one in 4.1 innings of work, before being forced from the game with pain in his right (throwing) arm. Lackey left the game gripping his arm between his bicep and elbow and many feared that the injury would be much worse than it actually was.
As it turned out, Lackey hadn’t re-torn anything in his surgically repaired elbow, which was the worry as he exited the game. At first, both Lackey and manager John Farrell were cautiously optimistic that the tall right-hander may be able to avoid the 15-day disabled list altogether. Lackey did end up on the DL and Alfredo Aceves was called upon to take his place in the rotation, and we all know how that turned out. It appears that John Lackey is quick to heal, as he may only need one rehab start before being able to return.
After a few days of rest, Lackey got his first, and only, rehab start for the AA Portland SeaDogs. Lackey threw 3.2 innings, giving up three hits and two walks, while striking out five and allowing no runs. Farrell will be cautious with Lackey, especially given the glut of other pitchers who could take his place for a spot start. Lackey has a bullpen session scheduled for Thursday and Farrell has indicated he will make the call regarding Lackey’s next Major League start after watching him throw.
Given his recent demotion, Aceves is unlikely to get the call should Lackey not be deemed ready. Instead that responsibility will likely fall on rookie Allen Webster, who impressed in his Major League debut on Sunday against Kansas City.