According to multiple industry sources, Red Sox right-hander John Lackey recently visited Dr. Lewis Yocum in California to have his right elbow examined. According to one of the sources, the Red Sox are expecting "a final resolution" in the coming days after receiving the examination's results. The source stated that the organization doesn't believe a second opinion will be necessary.
Lackey, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Sox after the 2009 season, went 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA in 28 starts in 2011. His ERA was the worst in Sox history by a pitcher who threw at least 120 innings. In two years in Boston, he is 26-23 with a 5.26 ERA in 61 starts.
If the worst-case scenario -- Tommy John surgery -- is realized it would have a significant impact on Lackey's contract with the Sox. His deal with Boston included a vesting option at the major league minimum (currently $414,000) for a sixth season if he required season-ending surgery on a pre-existing elbow condition. Such an operation would trigger the option, thus making the contract a six-year, $83 million deal -- thus meaning that, for luxury tax purposes, his contract is valued at roughly $13.8 million rather than $16.5 million, something that could mean millions of dollars in luxury tax relief to the Sox.
This year, Lackey went on the 15-day disabled list for a right elbow strain, at a time when he needed a cortisone shot to recover. He acknowledged that it was related to a long-term deterioration of his elbow.
"I know I have damage in there already, so you never know for sure. But every pitcher will find something. Some of us just got a little more than others,” Lackey, who had elbow issues early in the 2009 season, told WEEI.com in June. "You don’t want it to get too much worse than it already is. But the MRI was pretty close to what it was when I got here. ...
"It’s going to get worse eventually," he added. “It’s probably going to be something I have to stay on top of. The guys did a great job of helping me come back, so hopefully we can keep it where it is.”
Lackey did show improved velocity and power on his pitches at times after returning from the disabled list, including a 10-start stretch in July and August during which he went 7-2 with a 4.22 ERA. However, Lackey was 0-2 with a 9.13 ERA in five starts in September, contributing to the colossal failure of his team's starting staff.
For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox .