Right-hander John Lackey has been placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Boston Red Sox, who recalled right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson from Triple-A to fill Lackey’s roster spot.
Lackey was diagnosed with a right biceps strain, but the Red Sox said there is no structure damage to his arm.
Lackey, who had not pitched since Sept. 2011, left Saturday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth inning after hurting his right arm while delivering a pitch.
The 34-year-old was coming back from Tommy John surgery. It was feared that he may have re-injured his elbow, but an MRI revealed no damage.
It is not clear how long Lackey will be out. Alfredo Aceves, who relieved Lackey, is the top candidate to fill his spot in the rotation and is the probable starter Thursday and Felix Doubront getting an extra rest day before starting Friday.
Wilson was a second-round pick in 2009. He pitched 72 2/3 innings in relief at Pawtucket last season but hasn’t yet made his Major League debut.
Drew returns to Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox activated shortstop Stephen Drew from the seven-day concussion disabled list and optioned shortstop Jose Iglesias to Triple-A Pawtucket, according to reports Wednesday.
During a four-game rehab assignment in the minor leagues, Drew went 2 for 13 but hit a home run and had three RBIs and two walks in his final game while experiencing no post-concussion symptoms.
Drew, who has a one-year, $9.5 million contract in 2013, was hit by a pitch on his helmet a month ago during spring training and the Red Sox have monitored his condition closely for the past few weeks.
In Drew’s absence, the Red Sox started Iglesias at shortstop in six of their seven games to open the season. Iglesias batted an impressive .450 (9 for 20) with with three runs scored an RBI.
Catcher praises Lester
After seven shutout innings Sunday in Toronto, Boston Red Sox lefty Jon Lester got the ultimate compliment from his catcher.
“He’s definitely a different guy from what I saw from last year,” Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “Last year he was fighting himself a little bit. He wasn’t getting that downward angle he’s getting right now. He’s just a completely different pitcher and it’s impressive to see.”
Lester blanked the Blue Jays on five hits over seven innings, striking out six, walking none and throwing only 100 pitches. It was his second consecutive strong start. On Opening Day, he beat the Yankees behind his fastball and cutter almost exclusively. This time, Lester had far better command of his curveball and changeup.
“The cutter has a tight spin and has some quick cut to it,” Saltalamacchia said. “The curveball has become better because of it. And the changeup is one of his best secondary pitches and he doesn’t have to throw it too often.”
For Lester, the start to this year couldn’t be any different than last year, when he only received three runs of support in his first two starts (losses of 3-2 and 3-1). On Sunday, the Red Sox staked him to a 5-0 lead even before he took the mound.
“It’s a good way to start, especially with the offense they have on the other side,” Lester said. “Anytime you can get a little bit of breathing room and put them on the defensive, it obviously takes a little pressure off me and makes them try to work the count a little more so we can attack a little bit more than normal.”