John Lackey throws Quality Start, denies need for surgery

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During a radio interview yesterday Peter Gammons speculated about whether John Lackey’s struggles and elbow problems could lead to his needing Tommy John surgery, but then last night Lackey tossed 7.2 innings of two-run ball against the Phillies and denied the need for surgery.

Lackey told reporters that Gammons “straight made that up” and then asked them, “What did it look like tonight?”

However, general manager Theo Epstein explained to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston that the Red Sox “are not hiding that he had an elbow injury” and will “monitor him and make sure those symptoms don’t come back.”

Lackey has a 5.28 ERA in five starts since spending time on the disabled list with a strained elbow that required a cortisone shot and Epstein gave an interesting answer when asked if he’d classify the injury as a torn ligament:

Again, first off almost every pitcher by standard definition has a tear in his shoulder or elbow. That’s the nature of throwing a baseball. I think it’s accurate to say he had an elbow injury, he was given a shot for it to alleviate the symptoms and we monitor it closely.

Terry Francona took a much more sarcastic approach to Gammons’ speculation, saying: “We don’t usually work six weeks ahead on surgery. Go get ’em, Lack. You’ve got six more starts and then you’ll need Tommy John.”

Oh, and in addition to making $15.25 million this season Lackey is also still owed $15.25 million in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.