Joe Maddon didn’t let John Lackey talk himself into staying in Sunday night’s 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals after noticing the 37-year-old right-hander was experiencing some tightness in his right shoulder.
Lackey was shaking his right arm a bit after throwing a 1-2 curveball to Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk in the top of the seventh, and did the same “unusual” thing again, Maddon said, after a curveball in the dirt on the next pitch. Maddon summoned a trainer for a mound meeting and pulled Lackey for right-hander Justin Grimm, who struck out Grichuk to end the inning.
But Lackey was feeling better after the game and should be on track to make his next start. He said the cause of the tightness probably was due to him warming up in the bullpen during Thursday night’s 11-inning win over the Cardinals, in which he would’ve been called on to pitch in relief had Anthony Rizzo not ended the game on a walk-off walk.
“I’m okay,” Lackey said. “The extra bullpen session was probably not the best for me. I’ve been a little tight since then. But nothing crazy. Trust me, I’ve been out there feeling a lot worse. I’ll be all right.”
Lackey was solid before being removed, allowing one unearned run on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings and lowering his ERA to 3.41 in the process.
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That Thursday warm-up was Lackey’s second during a game in the last few weeks. He warmed up — but didn’t pitch — in the Cubs’ extra-inning comeback win over the Seattle Mariners July 31, too.
When asked if this shoulder issue would be the end of him getting loose to pitch in relief, Lackey said he would do it again, but with a caveat.
“Hopefully not until October,” he said.