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John Lackey is upbeat after promising start

John Lackey threw against the Phillies in a spring training game March 21 in Fort Myers, Fla.

J. Meric/Getty Images

John Lackey threw against the Phillies in a spring training game March 21 in Fort Myers, Fla.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Lackey doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself. But after pitching in a minor league game on Tuesday, he is happy with how spring training has gone.

“I’ve got one more start to go, but it’s gone pretty good. Pretty happy about where my stuff is,” the righthander said.

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Lackey went 5.1 innings, allowed seven hits, three runs, four walks and seven strikeouts against Tampa Bay’s Triple-A team. He threw 101 pitches, 54 for strikes.

“I was throwing off-speed pitches for strikes, so I felt good about that. I tried to throw a lot of fastball’s the last couple of innings and tried to stretch it out a little bit. It’s gone pretty well,” Lackey said.

Even though Lackey doesn’t want to jinx himself, he has watched video of games involving the hitters who will play for the Toronto Blue Jays this season. That’s the team he will face on April 6 at Rogers Centre in his first start in more than a year after Tommy John surgery.

That will be a big moment for Lackey, who has gone through a grueling rehab from the surgery and has made a seamless transition to pitching post-surgery. He feels better than he has in years, but he doesn’t want to say it too loudly. But he now sees hope for a career that was very much in question after he signed a five-year, $82 million deal with the Red Sox two years ago.

“I felt good,” he said. “Got to the number of pitches I wanted to get up to. Got up six times. Got what I needed accomplished and keep moving forward. I was trying to get my work in honestly. Being on the back field on an off day, you know, motivation was a little bit of an issue I guess.”

Lackey is expected to pitch in a minor league intrasquad game on Sunday after the team has left Fort Myers. He would then rejoin the Sox in New York.

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