John Lackey had elbow examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum

18 Comments

No details of the visit have been revealed by the Red Sox, but Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that John Lackey recently met with Dr. Lewis Yocum in California to have his right elbow examined.

According to Bradford’s sources the Red Sox expect to have a “final resolution” by the end of this week, which suggests surgery is an option for Lackey.

Lackey is owed $15.25 million in each of the next three seasons and there’s an option for 2015 that triggers at the MLB minimum salary if he needs elbow surgery.

Having him around for another season, even at the league minimum, may not sound like a positive thing for the Red Sox, but as Bradford notes the extra year being tacked onto the current contract would change the annual value of the deal and allow the team to spread out his luxury tax figure.

In other words, Lackey having elbow surgery would knock him out for 2012 and put his career in flux, but it would also save the Red Sox some money. And obviously finding out that he has significant elbow damage would help explain Lackey’s decline. His average fastball velocity this season matched a career-high at 91.6 miles per hour, but Lackey’s strikeout and walk rates were both far worse than his career norms.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
3 Comments

Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.