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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Who's ready to roll? Farrell's answer may surprise you

John Farrell thinks WHO is going to rebound??!!

The winter goodwill tour of John Farrell, which has included road trips to meet with players and town hall-style visits with fans, continued this past week when the new Red Sox manager had a friendly Q&A with media and callers during WEEI Sports Radio's Hot Stove Show.

Farrell was optimistic in discussing the versatility and power of his lineup, but what really excited the new skipper was hyping the player he believes is poised for a breakthrough year in 2013:

John Lackey.

"I think he has a chance to have as big an impact on our team as anybody on the roster," said Farrell, who had seen Lackey in Dallas the previous week. "He looks great; when people see him on the field for the first time, I think they are going be surprised at how he has reshaped his body physically and mentally."

Lest anybody forget, Lackey is the free agent right-hander the Red Sox signed to a five-year, $82.5-million contract before the 2010 season. The former Angels ace rewarded his suitors with back-to-back ERAs of 4.40 and 6.41 in the first two years of the deal, and then missed all of 2012 after having Tommy John surgery.
Sometimes it was easier for Lackey not to look.

Farrell was pitching coach for the Red Sox during Lackey's first summer in Boston, and observed him from the opposing dugout in '11 as manager of the Blue Jays. Asked what he thought of former pitcher Tim Wakefield's prediction that Lackey would be the 2013 "Comeback Player of the Year," Farrell said simply, "I think Wake is right."


"He [Lackey] has dropped about 12 to 15 pounds. I had a chance to see him throw, and his arm looks loose," Farrell stated. "He's upbeat, and looking forward to putting some of those recent experiences behind him. The way he's talking with eagerness about getting back on the mound ... there is a different side of John Lackey in here than what has been seen."

Maybe he's talking about JL Version 2007, who went 19-9 for the Angels and led the American League with a 3.01 ERA. At the still relatively young age of 32, is Lackey capable of returning to that level of success?

His manager thinks so.

Lackey Version 2007: Can he get that mojo back?

"I'm not making excuses for anything that's happened in the past, but the best thing that John can do is pitch as he's capable of. Now he's healthy; he's had his arm fixed and his elbow repaired, and will have a chance to do just that. I think we have yet to see the John Lackey that was signed here."

After three forgettable years, it's certainly time.

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