John Lackey is in camp early and looks to be in great shape.
After going 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA in 2011, Lackey underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and missed the entire 2012 season. Lackey has yet to look good in a Red Sox uniform since coming to Boston in 2010.
But Lackey is among those who reported to spring training early to get some extra work in and boy, did he look like a different person.
Lackey is listed at 245 pounds, but looks much slimmer in this picture, courtesy of Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston:
Lackey, playing catch twitter.com/GordonEdes/sta…— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) February 7, 2013
Boston’s starting rotation was an utter disaster last season, finishing with the 27th-highest ERA, the 27th-fewest quality starts and the 24th-highest opponent’s batting average.
General manager Ben Cherington didn’t make a ton of changes, since several returning starters have a lot of potential.
Jon Lester hasn’t been himself lately, but he could easily turn things around with a bit of confidence. Clay Buchholz has been a little inconsistent at times, but he has the ability to win at least 16 games.
Felix Doubront still needs more experience at the major league level, but he was promising at times during the year. Ryan Dempster is the new arm joining the Red Sox. Dempster is a veteran right-hander who was one of the best pitchers in baseball last season for around a month and a half.
And rounding out the five starters will be Lackey. His ability to get in great shape to start training camp is extremely encouraging. Boston has never seen him skinny, and maybe being healthy is all he needs to put together a successful 2013 campaign.
Is Henry Owens a Top 100 Prospect?
With each analyst’s list of the Top 100 prospects in baseball coming out recently, there was one thing that was noticeable—to me at least—and that was Red Sox farmhand Henry Owens.
Does Owens deserve to be in the Top 100?
Mayo ranked Owens No. 94 in all of baseball, while Law decided he wasn’t worthy of a Top 100 spot.
Law, however, put Owens in his list of the best 10 prospects that didn’t make his list. Law notes that he’d like to see Owens post high strikeout totals against more qualified hitters, since the highest level he played at in 2012 was Single-A Greenville.
In 23 games for Greenville last season—22 being starts—Owens went 12-5 with a 4.87 ERA in 101.2 innings. He struck out 130 batters, walked 47 and had an opponent’s batting average of .256.
Owens is clearly one of the top gems the Red Sox have in their minor-league organization, but he still needs some seasoning. He is likely to start the season in Single-A Salem, a bit of a jump from Greenville.
Daniel Nava Dedicated to Making the 25-Man Roster
If there’s one thing we know about Daniel Nava, it’s that he works extremely hard. If he didn’t have great work ethic, he never would’ve made the major leagues—especially after a facing a ton of adversity on the way.
Nava hasn’t been the best outfielder to play for the Red Sox in the last couple of years, but he’s held his own. He’s been in constant battle for the fourth outfielder’s spot on the team with Ryan Kalish recently, but seems to have won this year without much of a fight.
Kalish is expected to miss around half the season with shoulder surgery, while Nava is now expected to make the 25-man roster.
But that hasn’t stopped Nava from doing his best to catch new manager John Farrell’s eye. Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe reported that Nava is one of the few position players who showed up early to Ft. Myers:
Outside of pitchers and catchers, there aren’t too many others here. But outfielder Daniel Nava, as usual, showed up early. “I’m a nerd like that,” he said, laughing.
Nava played in 88 games for the Red Sox in 2012, hitting .243/.352/.390 with six home runs and 33 RBI.