Cubs

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Cubs

PEORIA, Ariz. – John Lackey finally had enough small talk about Tim Buss – the strength and conditioning coordinator who wore a Lucha Libre mask and a Speedo while the Cubs stretched before Monday's workout in Mesa – and wanted to knock out the obligatory media session.

"I've got places to go that are way better than Peoria," Lackey told reporters inside the visiting clubhouse during a 3-1 win over the San Diego Padres. "No offense. With all due respect."
 
Lackey doesn't need Will Ferrell's Ricky Bobby "Talladega Nights" qualifier, because he pretty much says whatever he wants. At the age of 38 – with nearly 3,000 innings on his big-league resume and a third World Series ring on the way – Lackey doesn't pretend to be somebody else for the cameras.
 
As for that "hybrid" role manager Joe Maddon has outlined for fifth/sixth starters Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery, well, you can guess Lackey's take.

"We like our routines," said Lackey, who went three innings and gave up one run at Peoria Stadium. "We like to know what we're going to do every five days. We'll see how it works out. It could be good. But it could disrupt some things, too." 

Not that Lackey would bring those concerns to Maddon: "I just work here, man, you know what I mean?"

Maddon – the Anaheim Angels bench coach when Lackey beat Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series – knows the act and already anticipated the reactions from a veteran rotation as the Cubs try to recover from pitching into early November and ramp up for another deep playoff run. 

 

"Even though you know you're going to get resistance," Maddon said, "if we're able to pull that off…it might add something to these guys."     

The Angels drafted Lackey during the Clinton administration. Addison Russell was eight years old when Lackey made his big-league debut. Lackey underwent Tommy John surgery during Kris Bryant's sophomore year at the University of San Diego. Lackey has already gotten through 133 starts (including the playoffs) with that reconstructed right elbow.

Lackey – who's in the final season of a two-year, $32 million contract – has vowed to never do a David Ross-style retirement tour.

"More than anything, it's going to be what he's thinking, how he feels," Maddon said. "He's got a young family and he's definitely got plenty of money in the bank. So what does he want to do? 

"I would think that he's going to evaluate his performance – and how he feels by the end of this season – and make that determination. He loves the game. The guy is absolutely a junkie. There's no question about it. 

"We'll just wait and see. It will be up to him, obviously, but Johnny is that kind of guy (who will) just say, ‘That's it,' and literally ride off into the sunset."

This technically marked Lackey's first Cactus League start this spring after facing Team Italy in last week's World Baseball Classic tune-up.  

"Italy didn't count?" Lackey said. "So I shouldn't have had to talk to you guys (then). You guys hosed me on that one."  

The snarling Lackey will be back in April, but for now he's enjoying getting ready for his 15th season in The Show. Either way, Lackey isn't making big plans to soak it all in, the way Ross visited the Lincoln Memorial, took a carriage ride through Central Park and got in the water with a beluga whale at SeaWorld last season.         

"He played a lot less than the rest of us," Lackey said. "He had plenty of time on his hands."

So…that would be a no?

"I'm just going to try to win," Lackey said. "I'm definitely going to maybe bring my son around a little bit more, that kind of stuff. But honestly I haven't even thought about that. When I get to the end of the season, we'll see where we're at and make the decision."