(BaseballStL) – Just a year removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery and then winning a World Championship against the Cardinals, John Lackey feels healthy and ready to move ahead with the Redbirds.
“I feel really good,” he said, “I feel healthy, strong and I feel like I can compete at the level I need to be at.”
Prior to the trade deadline, the Cardinals had been rumored to be interested in Tampa Bay ace David Price, but GM John Mozeliak said one they made the deal to bring in Justin Masterson, they wanted someone like Lackey.
“Because at that point, we realized that maybe we had a different way of getting somebody like a Lackey,” Mozeliak continued, “We really tried to avoid, staying out of our minor leagues if we could. To upgrade with somebody like Lackey who has the success he’s had in the postseason and just how dominate he’s been of late, is a benefit for us.”
Lackey has gone 11-7 with 117 strike outs for the Red Sox before the Cardinals made the ‘big deal’ for him. Now he’ll make his first start for the Cardinals Sunday in the series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“It was different being a part of trade speculation, but it worked out great,” Lackey added, “It was great to be a part of a championship in Boston and I will miss some buddies there, but I’m excited moving forward here.”
This is the first time in his MLB career that Lackey will pitch for a NL team, but he will throw to a familiar battery mate in AJ Pierzynski.
“We worked together a lot,” he said, “He’s an aggressive game caller and I’m aggressive in the way I pitch. I’ve known him a long time. We have the same agent. When you’re pitching, you have to make it work no matter who’s out there.”
“I would rather face the pitcher than David Ortiz,” Lackey joked, “It’s always intriguing. All my inter-league starts have been fun. It’s a new chapter.”
Lackey’s contract has an option for the Cardinals to pick up for only $500,000 next season, but some speculated he wouldn’t honor the deal.
“I feel very confident that in good faith that this will be honored. I have no doubt at all,” Mozeliak said Friday before Lackey arrived at Busch.
“It was a case by case basis. It would have been a harder decision in other places,” Lackey said upon his arrival, “This is somewhere I wanted to be and am excited about it. I'm absolutely going to pitch next year, as long as I'm healthy.”