BRADENTON, Fla. — Boston’s Jon Lackey retired the Pittsburgh Pirates on eight pitches in the first inning. Then he labored through a 35-pitch second inning.
“After the first inning being so quick, I definitely needed to throw a few pitches,” Lackey said after the Red Sox routed the Pittsburgh Pirates 16-6 Thursday. “It was more about getting up and down a couple times today. That was the biggest key for me.”
Lackey, who missed last season following elbow ligament-replacement surgery, was making his second spring training start. Pittsburgh took a 3-1 lead in the second when Brandon Inge and Clint Robinson singled, and Jared Goedert sent a curveball into the Red Sox bullpen beyond the left-field wall.
Lackey threw only fastballs in his one inning last weekend against Tampa Bay. He mixed in offspeed pitches against the Pirates.
“I threw a couple good ones, hung a couple,” he said. “A good step in the right direction. I’m still looking for a little bit of feel. But there hasn’t been any pain and I feel like my arm strength is getting better, so I’m encouraged.”
Lackey has been working on his cutter while throwing on flat ground and expects to throw a few in his next bullpen session. But his next outing, which likely will set slated for three innings, probably will be another fastball-breaking ball mix.
“These first few are definitely more about commanding the fastball than my secondary pitches,” Lackey said.
Pirates pitchers combined for 14 walks, including four with the bases loaded. Shortstop Josh Harrison made two throwing errors that allowed three runs to score.
Lyle Overbay drew a bases-loaded walk in a four-run third off left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who gave up four runs, three hits and four walks in two-thirds of an inning.
Pittsburgh’s Zach Foster and Roman Colon combine to walk five in the fourth, including David Ross, Overbay and J.C. Linares with the bases full. Jose Iglesias capped the five-run inning with a two-run single.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon worked the first two innings for the Pirates. Among Pittsburgh’s top prospects, Taillon struck out three and allowed one run on one hit.
“I feel like I handled that situation on that stage pretty well,” Taillon said. “Being around the guys in camp has helped me with that. I felt pretty comfortable out there.”
Taillon is to pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic and likely will start the season at Double-A Altoona.
Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks took batting practice, a few hours after being cleared by a wrist specialist. Middlebrooks left Wednesday night’s game when he felt pain in his right wrist on a checked swing. Middlebrooks broke the wrist last August when he was hit by a pitch.
Blue Jays 1, Yankees 0
TAMPA, Fla, — David Phelps could end up back in the New York Yankees’ rotation.
Phelps allowed two hits over three scoreless innings Thursday as a Yankees’ spilt squad lost 1-0 to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Phelps struck out one and walked one, and he has not given up a run in five innings over two starts. He could earn a starting spot if Phil Hughes remains sidelined by a bulging disk. Hughes is working out in a pool and might resume throwing early next week.
“Until he declares himself as healthy, it’s just too early to make a call on it,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said of Hughes. “If asked the question, is opening day in jeopardy for him? Yeah. He’s still got some more things to do just to be in a position to get off the mound again. If everything goes right, maybe by Tuesday next week, hopefully get the ball into his hand for just a flat ground throwing program.”
Phelps threw 27 of 38 pitches for strikes. He was 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA as a rookie last year, making 11 starts and 22 relief appearances.
“I’m still preparing the same way whether I’m in the bullpen or if I’m to going to be a starter,” Phelps said. “Just go out and try to be ready to pitch whether role they need me.”
Brandon Morrow gave up two hits in two shutout innings for Toronto, and Andy LaRoche hit a seventh-inning homer off Chase Whitley.
“I felt in rhythm, and I was a lot more aggressive to my spot with the ball, which obviously the results were better,” Morrow said.
Morrow allowed two earned runs and three hits in one inning against Detroit on Feb. 23.
Toronto outfielder Colby Rasmus didn’t play because of minor shoulder tightness.
New York catcher Chris Stewart was ejected by first base umpire Marty Foster in the second after he was called out on a close play following a grounder to shortstop Jose Reyes. Stewart argued the call and pointed twice at the umpire while returning to the dugout.
“His emotions got the best of him a little bit,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “He thought Stew was pointing at him.”
Stewart didn’t feel like he deserved to get tossed.
“I didn’t get in his face but, apparently, he thought I did something,” Stewart said. “I didn’t feel like I was talked to in the right manner, and I told him don’t talk to me like that. I didn’t curse at him.”
Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos gave up one hit over a scoreless inning. Santos could start the season as the closer if Casey Janssen, who had had surgery in November to address lingering shoulder soreness. is not ready.
Santos missed almost all of last season after shoulder surgery.
There was a scary moment in the seventh when Yankees center fielder Slade Heathcott ran into Ronnier Mustelier while the right fielder was attempting to catch Edwin Encarnacion’s fly ball. Mustelier held onto the ball, and both players were OK.
Before the game, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and ace CC Sabathia, New York’s expected opening-day starter, both threw in their first simulated games.
Rivera pitched in nine games last year, his season ending when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. He had surgery on June 12.
Sabathia, who had offseason left elbow bone spur surgery, and Rivera both plan to throw another simulated game.MORE IN Sports Wire
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