BOSTON (CBS) – Red Sox starter John Lackey will undergo Tommy John surgery on his sore elbow this offseason, meaning he will be out for the entire 2012 season.

“(Lackey) had, as most of you know, some intermittent elbow soreness. He decided it would be a good idea after the season to get that checked again, so he saw Dr. (Lewis) Yocum recently in L.A., had a follow-up MRI to compare to the previous one that was done… and after more consultation with Dr. Yoakum, John has decided to go ahead with Tommy John surgery,” New Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington announced at his introductory press conference on Tuesday.

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Cherington said no surgery date has been decided, but Lackey is expected to miss the entire 2012 season.

Listen to Cherington discuss Lackey:

“He’s really excited about the future, anxious about the surgery and getting that done, and the rehab, but knows he’s a much better pitcher than what he showed in 2011,” said Cherington. “We’ll look forward to having him as part of the staff likely in 2013.”

Lackey is coming off one of the worst seasons in the history of the Red Sox, finishing 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA. Despite that, Cherington defended the starting pitcher.

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“John Lackey pitched through circumstances this year that I don’t think any of us in this room can fully understand, and he got beat up for it a little bit along the way. This guy was dealing with some stuff, both on the field and off the field that were really difficult. I thought he showed tremendous toughness pitching through that,” said Cherington.

Ben Cherington on John Lackey

Cherington specifically mentioned Lackey’s final start of the year as the Red Sox were fighting for their playoff lives. Pitching in New York against the Yankees, Lackey allowed three runs (four earned) on five hits over 6.0 innings in a game the Red Sox eventually won.

“That game in New York at the end of the season where he helped us as we were grinding away for every win we could got overshadowed, I thought, by the way that season ended. He stepped up in that game for us,” said Cherington.

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The Red Sox do not have insurance on the five-year, $82 million deal Lackey signed, but if he misses a season due to surgery, the team can add an option year at the end of the deal at the Major League minimum salary.