Lackey expected to pitch before 2012 ends

Lackey expected to pitch before 2012 ends

BOSTON -- John Lackey, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery he underwent on Nov. 1, should be able to pitch again in 2012, but not before the Major League season ends.

"[He] threw a light bullpen [session] yesterday and he's in the weight room. He's working extremely hard in his conditioning effort and in his rehabilitation effort," manager Bobby Valentine said. "I think the projections of him pitching before the year is out -- the calendar year -- I think he's right on schedule. I don't know about the season, but he'll be pitching somewhere before the year is over."

The recovery time for Tommy John surgery has decreased over time. The Red Sox had two pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery this season, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill. Matsuzaka turned in his best start of the season on Tuesday in a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays, while Hill is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left elbow.

"I think as the numbers have grown with these operations and the data gets in, they start to trim off some of the excess," Valentine said of the quick recoveries. "The rehab program is still conservative with everyone, but it has a lot more data to dictate how many days you really need for full recovery."