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John Farrell: Saturday ‘a significant day for’ John Lackey

02.22.13 at 6:32 pm ET
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John Lackey (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell wasn’t going to sugarcoat the magnitude of John Lackey‘s start Saturday against the Rays at JetBlue Park.

“For anybody who’s gone through Tommy John, you can identify with some of the things he’s gone through,” said Farrell, who underwent two Tommy John surgeries. “Certainly the rehab can be very lonely. I’m hopeful that John, inside that tomorrow, will be able to reflect back on the year-plus that he’s worked his tail off to get to the point where he’s back in a major-league setting. Tomorrow’s a significant day for him, and certainly for us as we form this rotation going through camp.”

Lackey is slated to pitch just one inning, but considering the righty hasn’t thrown in a major league game since Sept. 25, 2011, the moment would seem to be significant.

Farrell explained the goal for the starter is to finish camp having thrown one outing of between 95-100 pitches, while completing around 23-27 total exhibition innings.

“He’s felt great physically,” the manager said of Lackey. “His arm has shown the looseness we’re accustomed to seeing with the Angels and really his first year here. I know one thing, he feels really good about himself from a physical standpoint, and it’s translated into some confidence right now. Tomorrow begins his progression toward the start of the regular season.”

• Farrell surmised that Mike Napoli (hips) would execute baserunnning drills Sunday, setting the stage for game action next week.

Rubby De La Rosa, who won’t throw more than two innings at a time this spring training (having come off Tommy John surgery) continues to impress. “He’s been impressive, not just in terms of the sheer stuff, but his ability to manipulate the baseball,” Farrell said. “He’s got a good feel for his changeup. He can throw his breaking ball for strikes. But we’re dealing with a set of circumstances that are different than [John Lackey's], coming off Tommy John. We’ll be a little bit more slow-paced with Rubby, but he’s been impressive early on.”

• Utilityman Brock Holt will see action at third base, although it appears as though second base is his most comfortable position. He also has played shortstop at times during camp.

• Farrell will go with the team to Dunedin Monday (about 3 1/2 hours away), joining the part of the split squad which will play the Blue Jays. The other group heads to Port Charlotte (45 minutes away) to face off with the Rays.

• Knuckleballer Steven Wright, who will get the start against the Jays with Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey both looking on, has made a mark in camp. While his knuckleball is thrown a bit harder than Wakefield’s, he also uses around the same ratio (85-90 percent) as the former Red Sox.

• Following is the Red Sox pitching schedule for the coming days:

Saturday vs. Rays: Lackey, Drake Britton, Pedro Beato, Anthony Carter, Jose De La Torre, Oscar Villarreal, Alex Wilson

Sunday vs. Cardinals: Jon Lester, De La Rosa, Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, Koji Uehara.

Monday at Blue Jays: Wright, Allen Webster, Terry Doyle, De La Torre, Beato, Chris Carpenter, Carter; at Rays: Alfredo Aceves, Chris Hernandez, Daniel Bard, Clayton Mortensen, Villarreal, Wilson.

Tuesday vs. Cardinals: Ryan Dempster, Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller.

Wednesday at Orioles: Franklin Morales, Britton, Koji Uehara, Carpenter, Bard, Carter, Beato.

Thursday at Pirates: Lackey, Hernandez, Mortensen, Doyle, Villarreal, Wilson, De La Torre.

Read More: John Farrell, john lackey, mike napoli, Red Sox
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