Lackey wants Cubs to play up to potential

Pitcher understands young club's effort will determine success

Lackey wants Cubs to play up to potential

MESA, Ariz. -- When John Lackey was considering his options as a free agent, he felt the Cubs were an attractive option because of the talented lineup. He'd watched it first-hand while pitching for the Cardinals. But, Lackey said, it's one thing to have potential.

"You still have to go do it," Lackey said. "It looks good on paper, but we have to play well. I'm not real concerned about [giving up] one or two runs most of the time. I think we're going to score some runs. You still have to do it. Can't talk about it."

Lackey allows 5 runs, fans 6 over 5-plus innings

Teammate Jon Lester described the current Cubs lineup as having more of an American League feel to it, even with the pitcher batting.

"I don't know about that," Lackey said. "He stinks at hitting."

Lester has four hits in 98 career at-bats, including a single off Lackey last year that was his first.

"We'll go eight out of the nine -- I'll give him that," Lackey said.

On Saturday, Lackey took the loss against the Giants, serving up five runs over five-plus innings. He retired 13 of 14 in one stretch, but the one he didn't was Matt Duffy, who hit a solo home run with two outs in the third to go with a first-inning RBI single.

"It took me a little while to get loose today," Lackey said. "The location wasn't great in the first inning. I found a groove there in the middle part and got some work in."

His next outing will be Thursday in a Minor League game in Arizona, and then he'll join the team in Las Vegas as the Cubs wrap up the exhibition season with two games against the Mets on Thursday and Friday, and another game against the Angels on April 3 before opening the season in Anaheim on April 4.

Saturday's lineup did not include Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant, whom Lackey watched from the Cardinals' side of the field last season. The Cubs did get his attention.

"Potential is great," Lackey said. "There's definitely some young talent there that's impressive to watch but, you have to come get it, you have to come play.

"I thought [the Cubs' lineup] was good, a really good lineup," he said. "That was definitely an attractive reason to come over and play with these guys."

And one week after signing Lackey last December, the Cubs made the lineup potentially even better by signing Jason Heyward.

"That wasn't a bad addition -- I'm all for that," Lackey 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.