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John Lackey takes another step as Red Sox offense erupts in win over Pirates

02.28.13 at 4:41 pm ET
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Right-hander John Lackey incorporated his curveball into his repertoire and bumped up his workload from one to two innings in his second start of the spring, with his continued physical progress representing the headline event of the Red Sox‘ 16-6 victory over the Pirates in Bradenton.

Lackey blitzed through the first inning at McKechnie Field — a notorious hitters’ park — working around a hit batter (who was subsequently caught stealing) and finishing the inning with a strikeout of Travis Snider before stumbling in the second. He permitted a pair of groundball singles through the left side of the infield before hanging a breaking ball to Jared Goedert, who launched it for a three-run homer to left. However, he then settled to close out the inning.

On the day, Lackey allowed three runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter in two innings. He logged 42 pitches (28 strikes), all but eight of which came during the laborious second inning, though Lackey told reporters that he did not tire while on the mound.

He was less caught up in the details of his spring training line than in taking another step in the process of his return from Tommy John surgery. He noted that he was able to locate his fastball down in the strike zone while starting to incorporate his secondary stuff.

“It’s a good step in the right direction,” Lackey told reporters in Bradenton. “[The return from Tommy John is] going to be a process. I’ve talked to several guys about their experiences. I’m still looking for a little bit of feel for sure because it’s been a while. But there hasn’t been any pain, and I feel like my arm strength is better. I’m encouraged from that standpoint.”

Lackey will now look to pitch into a third inning in his next outing, and in his side sessions, he will start to work a cutter back into his repertoire.

OTHER NOTES

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3-for-5 (all singles) with a steal and he’s now 8-for-14 this spring. Two of his hits on Thursday came against southpaws, against whom the left-handed hitting Bradley is now 4-for-6 this spring.

— The Sox collected 15 walks. Drew Sutton had four of those.

— All of the Sox’ 14 hits were singles.

Chris Carpenter, whom the Sox acquired almost exactly a year ago as compensation for the departure of Theo Epstein, has been a forgotten man in the Red Sox organization, particularly since he went unclaimed after being designated for assignment and was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket. But he had an impressive day on Thursday, throwing two scoreless innings, punching out two and recording his other four outs via groundball while working around a walk and an infield single.

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