FORT MYERS, Fla. -- One of the most striking sights during Spring Training for the Red Sox is the improved physique of John Lackey.
According to manager John Farrell, Lackey lost 17 pounds. But the most important thing the Red Sox are looking for from the righty is better results on the mound.
After missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery, Lackey looks like he could become a good comeback story. He has been sharp in bullpen sessions.
"A good work day today," Farrell said. "Freeness in his delivery, freeness in his arm, staying behind the ball, repeating his delivery, all the things we're looking for right now, he did them quite well. He's in great condition, so the 35-pitch bullpen [session] was not really taxing for him.
"As he's gone through the physicals and the strength testing of the shoulder, all those are consistent. He's more athletic. He has more ability to repeat his delivery, and, honestly, he feels pretty darn good about himself."
Gomes will try to earn time against righties
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While most positions are set in the Red Sox's lineup entering the season, the one place where at-bats are up for grabs is left field.
Newcomer Jonny Gomes will play against all lefties, but he also has a chance to earn his share of time against right-handers.
"If you succeed at platooning, you should have the opportunity to have more on your plate," said Gomes. "Am I putting my foot down to have some more time? No. Absolutely not. I do whatever helps the team. Last year, I platooned with a couple of guys and no one ran their mouth, nobody did anything, and that all leads to success and that all leads to winning. As soon as you've got guys butting heads for playing time, it all starts to go downhill a little bit."
Last year for the Oakland Athletics, Gomes had 279 at-bats.
"I came into camp to play 162 [games]," Gomes said. "It's not my choice. I don't make the lineup, but when my number is called, you can count on it that I'll be ready."
In his career vs. lefties, Gomes is a .284 hitter with 50 homers, 154 RBIs and an .894 OPS in 934 at-bats. Against righties, Gomes is a .223 hitter with 86 homers, 257 RBIs and .732 OPS in 712 at-bats.
"We know for a fact that he's been much stronger against left-handed pitching," said manager John Farrell. "That's a given. But we're not going to limit -- if he shows he can handle some right-handed pitching -- we're not going to take that away from him. We're going to give him opportunities to do that in Spring Training and certainly as we get into the start of the season."
Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava are among the left-handed hitters who will try to earn some at-bats in left.
Though veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay has never played the outfield in his career, he might get a chance this spring.
"It's been discussed," said Farrell. "[I'm] certainly not going to limit it right now. There's a possibility that will happen."
Buchholz responds favorably to treatment
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Just as the Red Sox hoped, the right hamstring injury that Clay Buchholz suffered on Tuesday is not serious. The righty was back on his feet by Wednesday's workout.
"It was actually a good day for Clay Buchholz," said manager John Farrell. "He responded favorably to treatment. Range of motion is good. Strength is good. He still has some sensation in a smaller spot, more localized than yesterday, and actually went out and threw this afternoon after the workout, not off of the mound but was able to put a ball back in his hand. It was an encouraging day for him."
The last thing the Red Sox want to do is suffer early injuries to their starting rotation, and that's why Felix Doubront's health update was also encouraging.
Doubront felt a slight loss of strength in his left shoulder during long toss sessions, so Farrell has him on a more conservative program in the early days of camp. If all goes well, Doubront will throw a side session next week.
"Today, his throwing program had him at 75 feet," said Farrell. "He'll be back to 90 and 120 [feet] tomorrow, with gradual increases in intensity, and our projected date to get him back on the mound is still Wednesday."
Red Sox focusing more on mental skills this spring
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- New Red Sox manager John Farrell has added mental skills class to the team's schedule in Spring Training.
Former Major League pitcher Bob Tewksbury, who has been a sports psychology coach with the Red Sox for several years, is running the sessions.
Farrell also said that Tewksbury will do some traveling with the Major League team this season.
"It's position-specific," said Farrell, "and different topics, discussion points, depending on who he's talking to. Today's meeting was with the starters. Tomorrow is with the relievers, and then he'll start to get into the position players. It's more of an overview, setting up some parameters, setting up what ideally we're looking for in certain types of situations as it relates to the individual. There will be a number of one-on-one follow-up as we get through the Spring Training program."
Farrell doesn't minimize the value of these meetings.
"Personally, I'm a huge believer in the mental side of the game. We spend so much time on the field," Farrell said. "We spend so much time in the weight room, and sometimes what gets neglected most is what goes on up here. When we have a resource such as Tewks, to not use it, we're not giving the players everything that they can take advantage of. His role has been expanded. He'll be with us about 85 days this year and more of those on the road."