CLEVELAND — John Lackey felt something new in his elbow — nothing.
The Boston right-hander, who was struggling and in pitching in pain before finally going on the disabled list with a strained elbow, completed a bullpen session without trouble Tuesday. He remains on schedule to rejoin the Red Sox rotation in less than two weeks.
“I felt pretty good,” Lackey said. “It’s a step in the right direction. I was able to let it go a little bit. I wasn’t feeling the same kind of bite in the elbow I felt before.”
Lackey was just 2-5 with a 8.01 ERA before he went on the disabled list on May 16. He had dropped his last three starts, allowing a season-high nine runs in a May 11 start against Toronto.
Lackey threw 40 pitches — all fastballs — on Tuesday before the Red Sox faced Cleveland. It was his most extensive work to date since going on the DL. He’ll throw more of a simulated game Friday in Detroit, and the plan is for him to make a minor league rehab start on May 31.
“I definitely need to see some hitters,” Lackey said. “That will help. Not having the pain and being able to finish (his pitches) will be nice.”
The Red Sox have him penciled in to start on June 5 at home against Oakland.
Lackey said his elbow began responding after he got a cortisone shot last week. In his two starts before going on the DL, he allowed 17 earned runs and 19 hits in 10 2-3 innings with eight walks and two strikeouts.
“It was bothering me a little bit longer than that,” Lackey said. “Whatever’s happened so far, has happened. I can’t do anything about that.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona met in his office with Lackey and pitching coach Curt Young following the bullpen session.
“Curt and Lack were both thrilled,” said Francona, who promised to be patient with Lackey. “We want him to be OK for the long haul. When you put a guy on the DL, you don’t want to put him back.”
Meanwhile, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was given a planned day off from starting, but it had nothing to do with him injuring his left foot.
Pedroia hurt his foot, the same one he had surgery on last September, in the eighth inning on Monday when he stumbled over second base and fell awkwardly. He left the game limping and was examined by an Indians team doctor, who cleared the former AL MVP.
Manager Terry Francona said Pedroia “was a little sore” and arrived early at Progressive Field on Tuesday for treatment. Francona said he and Pedroia were both relieved that he was not seriously hurt. Pedroia is expected to be back in the lineup for Wednesday’s series finale.
After Pedroia left, the Indians hit two grounders into right field that his replacement, Drew Sutton, couldn’t field, helping Cleveland rally for a 3-2 win. Francona felt Pedroia would have definitely gotten to at least one of the hits.
NOTES: The Red Sox outrighted LHP Hideki Okajima to Triple-A Pawtucket. The reliever was designated for assignment last week after Boston acquired LHP Franklin Morales from Colorado. Okajima cleared waivers and accepted the assignment to Pawtucket, where he began the season. The 35-year-old Okajima was 1-0 with a 4.32 ERA in seven relief appearances for the Red Sox. Okajima played a major role in Boston’s bullpen from 2007-09, but had a sub-par season in 2010.