BOSTON (AP) — Boston Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell finally got John Lackey on his side.
Farrell was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Oklahoma State when Lackey was an outfielder and pitcher finishing up at Grayson County (Texas) Junior College. Farrell tried to talk him into coming to the Cowboys, but Lackey was drafted in the second round by the Anaheim Angels and due for a big payday.
“I think I was chasing somebody upstream,” Farrell said. “He was long past making a decision.”
Farrell remembers Lackey as a great pitcher and an outfielder who was a pretty solid power hitter, too.
So, might the free-agent right-hander be part of a secret plan to replace Jason Bay’s bat in the lineup?
“Not that I’m aware of,” Farrell said with a smile. “But he’s an exemplary pitcher. … It’s great to have him on our roster after what we’ve seen of him from the other side of the field.”
Lackey has been in Boston the past week working out at Fenway Park to get ready for spring training, a little more than a month away. He was among the big attractions Thursday night at the annual awards dinner of the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Farrell was to be honored with the chapter’s Good Guy Award.
Others scheduled to be honored included:
—Red Sox senior adviser Bill James, the father of sabermetrics, with the Judge Emil Fuchs Memorial Award for long and meritorious service to baseball.
—Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, with the Ted Williams Award for baseball’s leading hitter.
—Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy, the manager of the year.
—St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, with the Tony Conigliaro Award for overcoming adversity.
The Red Sox signed Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million contract this winter, surprising those who expected the team to shore up the lineup to make up for Bay’s absence and the declining production of designated hitter David Ortiz. Lackey joins a rotation featuring Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka, with Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield ready to step in.
“It looks pretty good on paper,” Lackey said. “Now we’ve got to put in the work.”
The pitchers should benefit from an improved defense that will feature Jacoby Ellsbury in left, moving over to make room for new center fielder Mike Cameron. Adrian Beltre signed to play third base and replace Mike Lowell, who is recovering from finger and hip injuries.
“In the past we’ve outslugged people, and we’ve had years where we won some games, and won a lot of games, and actually played kind of ugly,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think I would prefer to pitch it and catch it. … It might not be an (offensive) juggernaut. It’s plenty good enough.
“We just want to win, and there’s a lot of ways to do that. We just want to be one run better than the other team. So if it’s 8-7 or 3-2, that’s kind of what we’re setting out to do.”
James was honored for his pioneering work in baseball statistics that helped fans and executives alike better understand how players contribute to a winning team. After years as an independent writer with a cult following, James was hired by the Red Sox as a senior adviser in 2003.
James said he learned just this week that a marketing firm called Deep Focus Inc. has applied to trademark “sabermetrics,” a term he coined from the acronym of the Society of American Baseball Research. James said sabermetrics is a “declaration of no ownership of knowledge.”
“You can’t make that someone’s personal property. It ceases to be what it is when you try to make it someone’s personal property,” he said. “If that goes through and we’re not able to stop it, it ceases to be.”