John Lackey has no interest in a David Ross-style retirement tour with Cubs: 'I just won't show up the next year'

/ by Patrick Mooney
Presented By Mooney

MESA, Ariz. — John Lackey didn't come here for a victory lap or a David Ross-style farewell from Cubs fans, the national media and Corporate America.

"Not a chance," Lackey said Thursday morning. "There will be no retirement tour. I just won't show up the next year."

Don't expect to see "Grandpa Lackey" trending on Twitter and all over Instagram, though he did seem amused by how his good friend and former catcher has appeared on "The Ellen Show," gotten a book deal, signed on with ESPN, joined Theo Epstein's front office as a special assistant and booked "Dancing with the Stars."

"He's doing everything possible," Lackey said. "I don't think that dude said 'no' to anything yet. He's enjoying himself, for sure."

At the age of 38, Lackey enjoys being an old-school enforcer on the mound, occasionally grumpy with reporters and oblivious to what's being written and said about him. He's in the second season of a two-year, $32 million contract and will get his third World Series ring in April.

"I feel great," Lackey said. "I'm just playing this year. See what happens at the end of the year. If I still feel good, keep playing."

Standing in front of his locker at the Sloan Park complex and looking back on his 2016 season as a whole, Lackey took a passive-aggressive shot at manager Joe Maddon during his first extended media session this spring.

"Until I had the little time on the DL, I was about as good as I've ever been, honestly," Lackey said. "I had to warm up a couple times in extra innings. Probably didn't help. That probably ended up getting me. Yeah, I wish that wouldn't have happened. Let's see where it might have gone."


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Lackey went on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness in the middle of August and finished at 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.057 WHIP, just missing the 200-inning mark (188.1). The guy who didn't come here for a haircut got two no-decisions and a loss in his three playoff starts, becoming a four- or five-inning pitcher.

"He was going good last year until we attempted to bring him into a couple games by warming him up," Maddon said. "I believe there's a lot of good baseball left in him. I just think last year I screwed it up by permitting him to warm up.

"In the moment, it didn't (bother him). But I think it's a cumulative situation. It does come back and bite you in the arm. You're trying to win the game, here's this guy that says 'I can do it,' the days looked right regarding when he had pitched previously. But that is something I should not permit."

Lackey skipped going to Washington with his teammates for President Barack Obama's final official White House event: "I was at a charity event, honestly. Just had a prior deal." Lackey had visited the White House for ceremonies honoring the 2002 Anaheim Angels and 2013 Boston Red Sox and understands what the Cubs will face as defending World Series champs.

"It's hard to win one, much less two," Lackey said. "It's a tough thing to do, but I think this is unique, just with the youth in this room. We're going to have a lot of guys that are still young, still hungry and not tired, I guess."

With Lackey thinking about disappearing to Texas at some point, Jake Arrieta awaiting free agency and the fifth starter an open question, the Cubs could be looking at a one-year window before a dramatic overhaul.

"I don't think we think that far ahead," Lackey said. "I'm trying to be good my next start. Whatever happens next year is, kind of, who cares?"

Lackey's spring debut is supposed to be Tuesday in Mesa against Team Italy in a World Baseball Classic tune-up.

"We'll see," Lackey said. "We'll see if it fits into my golf schedule."