John Lackey threw a bullpen session and Bobby Valentine “was very impressed”

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John Lackey is out for the entire season following Tommy John elbow surgery, but has advanced far enough in his recovery that he threw a 45-pitch bullpen session yesterday at Yankee Stadium.

And Bobby Valentine liked what he saw, telling Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston:

He threw with an ease of motion and with perfect location. I was very impressed with what I saw. He’s feeling really good about his progress. From what I remember the last time I saw him throwing and what I saw today, it looked like different people. He said it was a different effort, he was throwing through so much pain in the past.

Plenty of Red Sox fans were angry to learn that Lackey is merely allowed to hang out in the clubhouse while injured, so his rejoining the rotation next year may be a shock to everyone’s system, but he’s owed $15.25 million plus another $15.25 million in 2014.

He pitched horribly enough before undergoing surgery that Lackey likely won’t be handed a starting spot, but by the time spring training rolls around he’ll be about 17 months removed from surgery and should be fully recovered.

Former major league pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez dies in traffic accident

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Former Phillies right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez died in a traffic accident in Havana on Thursday, per reports from the El Nuevo Herald and CiberCuba. No other deaths or injuries have been reported in connection to the accident. Gonzalez was 34 years old.

The Cuban righty defected from his home country in 2013 and signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Phillies. A bout of right shoulder tendinitis compromised his bid for a major league role, but he finally broke through to the big leagues at the tail end of the 2014 season and turned in a 6.75 ERA, 5.1 BB/9 and 8.4 SO/9 in just six outings. Another case of shoulder inflammation derailed any progress he might have made in 2015, however, and he recorded just five innings in Triple-A Lehigh Valley before the team officially released him prior to the 2016 season.

The Phillies released a statement following news of Gonzalez’s death: