Valentine wowed by Lackey's bullpen session

Valentine wowed by Lackey's bullpen session

NEW YORK -- Red Sox right-hander John Lackey, who hasn't thrown a pitch in 2012 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, reeled off an encouraging bullpen session before Sunday's game at Yankee Stadium.

"Lackey threw 45 pitches down in the 'pen," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "I would say, as I said to him, I'll bet you 35-37 of those pitches were excellent. They were thrown with an ease of motion and had perfect location, movement. I was very impressed with what I saw."

No decision has been made regarding whether Lackey will pitch in a game for the Red Sox before the season ends. But the club does hope he will pitch competitively somewhere, perhaps in the Minor Leagues or even the Instructional League.

"He's coming on really well," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. "We fully expect him to pitch in some sort of competitive environment this year so that he can go into an offseason and feel like it's a normal offseason. We expect him to have a normal offseason, but I don't know yet when that game is or where that game is."

Lackey felt a noticeable difference from his side session on Sunday compared to when he last pitched in a game for the Red Sox, back on Sept. 25, 2011.

"From what I remember of him throwing the last time I saw him and watching him today, it looked like different people and he thought there was a lot different effort, because he was throwing through so much pain in the past," Valentine said.