I'm calling it right now: John Lackey is about to embark upon a season that will do wonders for his likeability among Red Sox Nation. It's not as if Lackey could do much to make Sox fans dislike him more, short of drinking beer while on the mound, so an improvement in that area isn't such a bold prediction.
But I see a solid, if not great, season from the sometimes-ornery righthander. After a year's rest while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and losing a significant amount of weight, Lackey should be able to turn in the innings-eating performances that have sporadically occurred during his career. If we're lucky, he'll also win some games.
Lackey's had a strong showing so far this spring, and while spring training results must always be taken with a grain of salt, it bodes well that he's given up just three walks, and that his velocity is back into the low nineties. With partner-in-crime Josh Beckett on the opposite coast, Lackey seems determined to turn over a new leaf, and I think he'll succeed - this strong spring training is just the beginning.