ST. LOUIS (AP) - John Lackey won’t be facing his old team in his first start with the St. Louis Cardinals. And he has no problem pitching at a deep discount next season.
Lackey will pitch Sunday in the series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers, with Lance Lynn pushed back to start Tuesday night in the opener of an interleague series against the Boston Red Sox. The Cardinals’ other trade deadline pickup, Justin Masterson, will make his first start Saturday night.
The Cardinals are anxious to plug in Lackey, who last pitched Saturday. Manager Mike Matheny acknowledged it might have been awkward having him pitch against Boston, but said the biggest factor was fitting in the new acquisition.
“We’ve got an opportunity to throw him in there, get him in there as quick as we can,” Matheny said
The 35-year-old Lackey (11-7, 3.60) pitched the clinching Game 6 in the World Series against the Cardinals last fall. He said he wouldn’t have minded pitching against the Red Sox in his first National League start.
“I mean, I did it against the Angels with the Red Sox, so it’s something I’ve done before,” Lackey said. “It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.
“When I’m competing, I’m competing. I don’t care who’s on the other side.”
Lackey has one year to go on a five-year, $82.5 million deal but a clause in his contract calls for a team option at just $500,000 if he missed a season due to injury. The right-hander did not pitch in 2012 after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery.
“I’m absolutely going to honor it,” Lackey said Friday. “As long as I stay healthy. Yeah, go out there and get after it.”
That provision was a key to the deal.
“I feel very confident that in good faith this will be honored,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “I’m not concerned at all.”
The Cardinals added Lackey and Masterson (4-6, 5.51) to the active roster. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a former Boston teammate, will likely be on the receiving end Sunday.
Though the departures of outfielder-first baseman Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly were emotional, there’s no looking back. Craig has two years to go on a six-year, $30 million contract and Mozeliak said the team has “an opportunity to re-deploy those resources somewhere else.”
Craig was expendable because the Cardinals want to get regular playing time for rookie Oscar Taveras in the outfield, plus prospects Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk aren’t far away.
“I do think at some point the outfield would have had to be addressed,” Mozeliak said.