John Lackey shows more signs of progess

If you know where to look in the image, you can almost make out the scar near his right elbow. It's probably 4-6 inches long, may still be a little red, and will be a constant reminder of the toll throwing a baseball for a living takes on an arm.

John Lackey (pictured) continued his road back from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday with a 101-pitch, 5.1 inning outing against the AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. His line was a respectable 3 runs on 7 hits, with 7 K's and 4 BB's. Speaking after the game, Lackey sounded very optimistic. “I felt to the number of pitches I wanted to get up to. Got up six times. Got what I needed accomplished and keep moving forward.”

There's no doubt that John Lackey has been something of a disappointment to this point in his Red Sox career. There's also no denying that he came to Spring Training this year in a totally different frame of mind. For that matter, just going by physical appearance, Lackey came to Fort Myers in a different body having lost a significant amount of weight in the off-season. His outings this spring have been more about seeing how his surgically repaired right elbow responded than about actual results. Yesterday, he had good velocity on his fastball and equally important, he was throwing his off-speed pitches for strikes.

Lackey's next and final Spring Training start will take place on Sunday in a minor league intrasquad game while the rest of the team is heading north for Monday's season opener in New York against the Yankees.

Follow Jim Monaghan on twitter - @Monaghan21