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John Lackey stellar in spring debut

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox righthander John Lackey pitched for the first time in spring training Thursday morning, going three innings in a minor league intrasquad game.

Lackey was perfect, retiring all nine hitters he faced and striking out six of them. He threw 36 pitches, all fastballs and a few changeups.

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It certainly beat the alternative, which would have been a long bus ride across the state for the game against the Marlins.

“I just didn’t want to go to Jupiter today to be honest with you,” Lackey said. “It’s a lot shorter trip here.”

Lackey is scheduled to start on Tuesday against Miami at JetBlue Park.

“I felt good. Pretty much threw a lot of fastballs, trying to get that location to start off with,” Lackey said. “Good place to start.”

Lackey was coming of Tommy John elbow surgery when he reported to camp last season. Now he’s pitching with much more peace of mind.

“Definitely just a lot different,” he said. “Last year you kind of wondered how you were going to feel with the elbow more than trying to locate pitches. I was just trying to see how my elbow was going to feel more than anything.”

Lackey had a strong season in 2013, going 10-13 with a 3.52 ERA over 29 starts and 189 innings. He was 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in the postseason. He pitched a key inning of relief in Game 4 of the World Series then beat the Cardinals in Game 6, allowing one run over 6 innings.

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