By Maureen Mullen
FORT MYERS, Fla. - In his second Grapefruit League outing against the Orioles Monday afternoon at City of Palms Park, John Lackey went four scoreless innings, giving up one hit, in the Red Sox' 6-5 victory.
"[I was] happy with fastball location today," he said. "[The] rotation of my four-seam fastball was nice. It was nice and true. [I] still haven't started throwing my cutter yet. Probably ready to do that next start. It was a good step forward.
"I threw some really good changeups. I was really happy about that. Didn't throw that many curveballs. But the changeup was a big plus for me."
Manager Terry Francona was happy with what he saw.
"He was commanding very well," Francona said. "His touch and feel look so good. That was nice to see."
Of the 13 batters he faced, Lackey got groundball outs from seven.
"He's pitching to contact and throwing a lot of strikes, working ahead in the count," Francona said. "Just thought he had a real nice feel. It's still early in the spring for him. As far as velocity, he's probably the last [on the staff] out of the chute, and that's okay. He's been doing this a long time. But he certainly pitched very well."
Lackey threw 39 pitches, 29 for strikes. Looking to get to 55 total pitches, he went to the bullpen after his outing was complete and threw 16 more.
He has given up just one run in six combined innings this spring. In his last outing, against the Braves on Wednesday, he pitched two innings.
"[I] felt really good today," he said. "That's a pretty big jump [in pitches] from the last one. So I'll probably be pretty sore tomorrow."
Lackey has yet to incorporate a cutter into his game repertoire.
"That's okay with us," Francona said. "We don't want to ever say [no, don't throw a certain pitch in spring training]. But we'd like guys to establish their fastball, arm strength, arm speed before they start working on a cutter. Some guys get out there and you start competing and you want to get outs. Lack's been doing this long enough to know [to] get ready for the season."
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/maureenamullen