Right-hander looking to establish fastball in Cactus League starts
By Jesse Sanchez
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Cubs right-hander John Lackey took the mound Wednesday on track to pitch only four innings, but things went so well that he stayed out there for another frame.
"I felt really good about it," Lackey said after a 10-0 loss to the Royals at Surprise Stadium. "It was a good test because it's still early in spring and I'm still trying to establish the fastball and work on that. They are obviously a good fastball hitting team so it was a nice test for sure."
Lackey gave up a one-out single to Mike Moustakas in the second inning and then retired the next seven batters in order, four via strikeout.
Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar hit a two-out triple in the third and scored the first run when Moustakas followed with a single up the middle. Kendrys Morales hit a one-out single off Lackey in the fourth, but Morales was wiped off the basepaths when catcher Salvador Perez grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Royals second baseman Christian Colon led off the fifth with a double and advanced to third base on a passed ball. He scored on a single by Reymond Fuentes to extend Kansas City's lead to 2-0.
In the end, Lackey was charged with two runs on six hits in five innings with four strikeouts in the 66-pitch outing. He threw 49 strikes.
"I felt like I located the ball pretty good today," Lackey said. "It was a nice step forward."
Lackey, who signed a two-year contract this offseason, gave up three runs on five hits and walked one in three innings against the Reds in his Cactus League debut. He struck out four.
Lackey went 0-for-2 at the plate on Wednesday.
"I used to be a lot better at [hitting] a long time ago," Lackey said. "That's what happens when you've been in one league for 15 years, I guess. I have enough on my hands trying to pitch, if I happen to help with the bat that would be icing on the cake."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.