When John Lackey clutched his right arm in the bottom of the fifth inning, I panicked. Though it was pretty obvious that the problem wasn't his surgically repaired elbow, things looked very serious as the heckled John Farrell (stay classy, Toronto) ushered Lackey off the field.
I had predicted a season of redemption for Lackey early in spring training, and he was pitching like he meant to prove me right, with eight strikeouts through four and a third innings - indeed, his only mistake was a homerun to J.P. Arencibia. If only the Sox had managed any offense at all, things would have looked pretty promising.
As the game went on (and reliever Alfredo Aceves ensured that a win was out of the question), we got the news that Lackey had to leave with "right biceps strain." Afterwards, both Farrell and Lackey expressed optimism, though anything definite will have to wait for an exam in Boston. Lackey compared the feeling to a severe hamstring cramp, "It's all in the bicep, wasn't elbow. Pretty frustrating, a little scary when it happened for sure."
Lackey also reported that he felt better almost as soon as he made it to the clubhouse, and teammates Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester were reassured once they chatted with him. I have to say that one of the most disappointing things about the situation were the jokes about it on Twitter. I don't care how much you dislike a player, joking about an injury is never funny.
The good news is that Lackey seems to be mostly alright. Severe strains can come with muscle tears and possible surgery - or it could be minor enough that Lackey just needs some rest, and he could make his next start. Here's hoping it's the latter.