Veteran Lackey calls age a 'non-issue'

Veteran Lackey calls age a 'non-issue'

MESA, Ariz. -- Right-hander John Lackey could have easily felt his age on Monday. To stay on schedule, he started for the Cubs' high Class A Minor League team, which included 19-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres, 22-year-old infielders Donnie Dewees and Jesse Hodges, and 23-year-old Yasiel Balaguert.

And although Lackey's age -- he's 37 -- may be considered a negative in baseball terms, he says it isn't a factor.

"It's a non-issue really," Lackey said after cruising through six innings. "I feel probably better now than I did when I was 30."

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Is that because he's found a fountain of youth?

"I had a broken elbow for about two years that I was trying to grind through, and that was no fun," said Lackey, who missed the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

"I have more options, too, more pitches, more things I can do if one thing isn't working," he added. "I'm seeing some things and trusting my abilities and trusting pitching to contact and making hitters make decisions."

On Monday, Lackey walked the third batter of the first inning and gave up a two-out double in the third while striking out six against the Angels' Minor League squad. He got some defensive help, including a nice barehanded grab by Hodges, who was playing third.

"They made some nice plays for me, for sure," Lackey said of the young Cubs. "I was able to locate the ball pretty good. I knew they'd swing a lot -- young kids like to swing. It worked out fine. I got my work in."

Monday was an off-day for the rest of the Cubs, but Miguel Montero caught Lackey and Matt Szczur, who is rehabbing from a sore lat, got an at-bat every inning.

"I'm just ready to play some games that matter and go against somebody and get after it for real with three decks on the stadium instead of these little ones," Lackey said.

There are no decks at all on the Minor League field, and Lackey didn't draw the crowd that Jake Arrieta did for his outing.

"I think there were three decks on the bleachers," said Lackey, who has at least two more spring outings before the Cubs' regular season begins on April 4 in Anaheim.

"I think I'll be right on time," he said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.