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Lackey: ‘I don’t want to bring those runs up north’

03.17.10 at 3:13 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox starter John Lackey logged four scoreless innings, in which he remained characteristically efficient. He allowed just two hits and walked none while striking out a pair of Mets hitters, needing just 39 pitches (28 strikes) to sail through his outing.

Such performances have largely typified the right-hander’s spring. He has now thrown nine scoreless innings in exhibition game, and he has yet to walk a man during the Grapefruit League season. He has allowed five hits in 30 at-bats, holding opponents to a .167 average. His biggest concern has thus been his ongoing need to build up arm strength (he threw about 10 pitches in the bullpen after leaving Wednesday’s game).He also wants to see improvement in his breaking ball, which he will measure by whether he is able to get more swings and misses with the pitch.

But overall, Lackey has had little to complain about this spring.

“I feel pretty good. I feel like my delivery is on time, location is pretty good,” said Lackey. “I’ve thrown the ball pretty well. But honestly, I’d probably like to give up a couple runs here. I don’t want to bring them all north with me.”

Lackey did have a line drive hit off the bottom of his foot, but reported no ill effects from the shot. Instead, he had an opportunity to marvel at a defensive gem turned in by teammate Adrian Beltre. Though the ball trickled just a few feet from the mound, Beltre called off Lackey and pounced on the ball. He reached down, barehanded it, and with his torso parallel to the ground and while falling towards the third-base line, he launched a missile to first to clip Mets shortstop Alex Cora at first.

“Pretty awesome play by AB,” marveled Lackey. “That dude can play.”

“He always shows off the arm. No step over to first, he’s got that one down,” the pitcher continued. “Guys on our team on the [Angels] bench would talk about, ‘Hey, that dude can pick it.’ It was definitely impressive to watch him play defense.”

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