ST. LOUIS -- How much things have changed in the span of 10 months. The last time the Red Sox and Cardinals played before Tuesday's series opener, John Lackey was the winning pitcher in clinching Game 6 of the World Series for Boston.
Lackey, who won't pitch in this three-game series, greeted several of his former teammates before the game.
"It's great to see some friends, for sure," said Lackey. "Talked to a couple of them yesterday on the phone and stuff. Definitely some guys you'll miss, but it's kind of part of the deal."
Shortly after arriving in St. Louis, Lackey confirmed that he will pitch in 2015 at the player minimum that was negotiated into his original contract with Boston.
However, it remains unclear if Lackey would have done the same had he stayed with the Red Sox. Reports surfaced a few weeks back that he considered taking 2015 off rather than pitching at the minimum.
"I don't know about that, honestly. I didn't get that far ahead to think about it at that point," he said.
He understands that the Cardinals wouldn't have traded for him without knowing they could have him in 2015.
"They definitely wanted assurance, for sure, that I intended on playing next year," he said.
The sixth-year option at the player minimum was negotiated into Lackey's contract contingent on if he missed significant time with a pre-existing elbow injury. Lackey didn't pitch in 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and that's when the '15 option vested.
Why would it be different pitching at that price for St. Louis than Boston?
"You guys are trying to stir stuff up. I didn't get that far ahead thinking about it," said Lackey.
But he will allow himself to think at least a little bit ahead to October.
"That's the only reason I'm still playing," he said. "I'm still playing to try to win a ring. That's the only reason I'm still here. To be able to be here and have that opportunity to make a playoff run or try to get into the playoffs is where I want to be."
How about the chance to pitch against former teammate and new Athletics ace Jon Lester in the World Series?
"Oh yeah, we talked every other day [since the trades], at least," said Lackey. "We've already talked a little trash. Hopefully I'll see him later on. Hopefully it works out."
Lackey certainly experienced the extremes of playing in Boston, going from being the target of boos to receiving a rousing ovation following his performance in Game 6 of the World Series.
"There were definitely some ups and downs, for sure, some fun and some not so fun, I guess," he said.
What will he remember most?
"I'll concentrate on last year and winning a championship and really enjoying that year and having fun with those guys."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less