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.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.