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John Lackey: Elbow going to be ‘something I have to stay on top of’

06.07.11 at 9:16 pm ET
By

John Lackey

NEW YORK — Two days after making his first start since returning from the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain, John Lackey was mildly optimistic.

“It’s been a more normal soreness this time than actual pain,” he said prior to the Red Sox’ series opener against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The starter finished his outing Sunday against the Athletics giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings. It was deemed a step in the right direction, especially after Lackey had allowed 17 runs in his previous 10 2/3 innings. Yet the pitcher admits that he still lives with some trepidation.

“I know I have damage in there already, so you never know for sure. But every pitcher will find something. Some of us just got a little more than others,” said Lackey, who had elbow issues early in the 2009 season. It is a condition that led to a clause in his current deal which makes his option year at the major league minimum if significant time is missed due to the elbow ailment.

Asked if there was concern that the problem was going to be something more serious, Lackey said, “A little bit because you don’t want it to get too much worse than it already is. But the MRI was pretty close to what it was when I got here.”

It should be understood that virtually all major league pitchers live with some sort of wear and tear, much of which will show up negatively on examinations. The trick is, as Lackey has discovered, to manage it in order to prevent setbacks that might derail a career.

“It’s going to get worse eventually, but the shot got the swelling down so things aren’t hitting against each other. That didn’t feel so good,” he explained. “It’s probably going to be something I have to stay on top of. The guys did a great job of helping me come back, so hopefully we can keep it where it is.”

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