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Saturday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: John Lackey vs. J.A. Happ

04.06.13 at 8:08 am ET

Nearly every player who takes the field for the Red Sox in the early weeks of this season will have something to prove after a down 2012. But that burden may be heaviest on John Lackey, who missed the 2012 season after having Tommy John surgery and will make his first start since Sept. 25, 2011, on Saturday afternoon in Toronto.

This will be Lackey’s next chance to begin fulfilling the high expectations the Red Sox had of him when they signed him in the 2009 offseason. A sore elbow plagued him through 2010 and 2011, years in which his ERA was 4.40 and 6.41.

Lackey didn’t see much game action in spring training, throwing 11 2/3 innings. In that minuscule body of work, he posted a 5.40 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. He last saw the Blue Jays on Sept. 14, 2011, when he pitched 5 1/3 innings, gave up two earned runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out four.

The Blue Jays will send J.A. Happ, who’s beginning his first full season in Toronto, to the mound opposing Lackey.

Happ finished last year with a 4.79 ERA. He pitched slightly better after being traded to Toronto from Houston, putting up a 4.69 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP for the Jays after recording a 4.83 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP for the Astros.

Since he’s only spent half a season in the AL East, the Sox don’t have much firsthand experience with Happ. Jonny Gomes, who was in the NL Central with the Reds while Happ was an Astro, has faced him 11 times and never gotten a hit.

Happ’s only outing against the Sox as a Jay was also his first appearance for Toronto, on July 21, 2012, in Boston. He pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief of Carlos Villanueva, throwing just five pitches and getting groundouts from Ryan Sweeney and Pedro Ciriaco.

Several current Jays have hit Lackey well. Melky Cabrera has a .345/.367/.448 line with three doubles, and Adam Lind has six doubles and 6 RBIs in 26 PAs against Lackey.

Red Sox vs. Happ (LHP)

Jonny Gomes (11 plate appearances): .000 BA/.273 OBP/.000 SLG, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (8): .333/.375/.500, 1 RBI, 1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (3): 1.000/1.000/1.333, 1 double, 1 RBI

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk

Shane Victorino (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk

Pedro Ciriaco has no hits in one PA against Happ. Jackie Bradley, Mike Carp, Jose Iglesias, Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava and David Ross have never faced Happ.

Blue Jays vs. Lackey (RHP)

Melky Cabrera (30): .345/.367/.448, 1 RBI, 3 doubles, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Jose Bautista (28): .238/.429/.524, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 7 walks, 5 strikeouts

Rajai Davis (26): .385/.385/.538, 3 RBI, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 8 strikeouts

Adam Lind (26): .538/.538/.769, 6 RBI, 6 doubles, 2 strikeouts

Edwin Encarnacion (19): .294/.368/.471, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Maicer Izturis (10): .111/.200/.222, 1 double, 1 walk

Mark DeRosa (9): .500/.556/1.000, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 1 double, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

J.P. Arencibia (7): .000/.143/.000, 1 walk

Henry Blanco (6): .167/.167/.167, 2 RBI, 1 strikeout

Jose Reyes (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout

Emilio Bonifacio and Colby Rasmus have never faced Lackey.

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