BOSTON (CBS) — To characterize John Lackey’s tenure in a Boston uniform as an up-and-down ride would be slightly inaccurate. In actuality, Lackey’s time in Boston was almost completely negative up until 2013, when he came back from Tommy John surgery, pitched his best season in a Sox uniform and won the clinching game of the World Series at Fenway Park.
Despite that recent success, the team’s struggles this year led to the pitcher getting traded away to St. Louis last week. It was a welcome change for the 35-year-old veteran.
“Pretty excited, actually,” Lackey said Tuesday night when asked how he reacted to learning he had been traded. “I wasn’t really surprised. But, honestly this was about as good a place for me to be right now. So I was pretty happy with where it happened.”
Lackey leaves the last-place Red Sox to join the Cardinals, who are in the thick of a playoff race. After Tuesday’s win over the Red Sox, the Cardinals sit one game back of the Brewers in the NL Central, and they’re holding on to the top wild card spot. Lackey himself aided in that race, as he allowed two runs over seven innings in a victory in his Cardinals debut on Sunday.
Getting out of a losing situation and into a winning one was something that very much pleased Lackey.
“I mean, yeah, it was definitely … you could see it kind of headed in that direction, for sure,” Lackey said about the rebuilding Red Sox. “But, I’m happy to be here, and I’m happy with what happened, and the way Ben [Cherington] handled it was first-class. Everything was cool.”
Lackey didn’t talk much about his contract situation, as he’s due just $500,000 next season — a salary which he reportedly wasn’t willing to work for in Boston. In St. Louis, he’s apparently willing to honor the contract, though he wouldn’t delve into the details on Tuesday. He did say that he never sat down with the Red Sox to discuss a possible extension.
What he also made clear was that in his 12th season, the motivating factor he has to take the mound every fifth day is to win a championship.
“That’s the only reason I’m still playing,” Lackey said. “I’m still playing to try to win rings. That’s the only reason I’m still here. To be over here and to have that opportunity to make a playoff run, or try to get into the playoffs, is where I want to be.”
When asked if he might have wanted to have had the chance to work out a contract extension in Boston, Lackey just said, “I’m glad to be here.”
At one point in the meeting with the media in the St. Louis dugout, Lackey was told that he didn’t sound very sentimental about his time in Boston.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Lackey replied.
MORE RED SOX COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON