John Lackey’s edgy attitude will cause friction at some point this season. He’s a bulldog pitcher with two World Series rings and more than 13 years of big-league service time.
But that side is harder to see when the Cubs are putting football halftime scores up on the board.
“You’re not going to hear me complain about hanging out and watching guys score runs,” Lackey said after Wednesday’s 9-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. “I promise you that. I’ll sit there and get a coffee and wait as long as they want to hit.”
Lackey began the game by escaping a no-outs, bases-loaded jam with only one runner scoring — and then chipped in with an RBI single during a five-run first inning that in total took almost 50 minutes to complete.
The Cubs gave Lackey some breathing room — the same way they did during last week’s 14-6 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field — and that should lead to a better return on their two-year, $32 million investment.
“The guys made it a lot easier on me,” said Lackey, who gave up two runs in 6.2 innings. “This lineup’s deep. Looking from the other side as a pitcher, it’s tough to get through without suffering a little bit of damage.”
Getting in cruise-control mode should help Lackey through his age-37 season — after throwing almost 230 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals last year — and into the bright lights of October.
[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]
“I like edgy,” said manager Joe Maddon, the Anaheim Angels bench coach when Lackey beat the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. “I love the counterbalancing personalities within our clubhouse.
“In any clubhouse John walks into, he’s going to provide that for you. I’ve known that for a while. But then again — game over — you’ve never had a bigger sweetheart in your life. It’s just John on gameday. He’s a cowboy, he’s competitive and he’s edgy.”
That’s what bothered Cubs fans when he pitched for the Cardinals, but he got a nice ovation walking back to the dugout in the middle of the seventh inning, tipping his cap to the crowd of 36,496 at Wrigley Field.
“It was awesome,” Lackey said. “The atmosphere has been sweet. Even Opening Night, when we won the game, everybody’s singing the song and stuff. It was really cool.”