Lackey wasn't surprised by departure

Updated: May 5, 2010, 12:23 AM ET
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com

BOSTON -- The Los Angeles Angels have gained a reputation among players for allowing their young talent to depart when it reaches free agency.

"I think the track record kind of speaks for itself," John Lackey said Tuesday.

The Angels will get an idea of how much they miss Lackey, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal in Boston over the winter, when they face him Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park. The Angels did make an effort to retain Lackey, but their offer came up a year and $22.5 million short of Boston's. Lackey had already seen many of his teammates, including pitcher Jarrod Washburn, depart via free agency before him, so he wasn't surprised they didn't give him the best offer.

"It's different. The way they preach the team game and giving it up for the team. That's a little suspect," Lackey said. "You're supposed to give it up for the team. When the time comes, they might not want to give it up for you. But I totally knew that was a possibility. I was prepared for that. That's the nature of the game today."

Through the first month, the Angels have struggled to get quality starts. Their starters entered Tuesday night with a 5.24 ERA, second-worst in the American League, trailing only the Detroit Tigers. Lackey, Boston's No. 3 starter, is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA. Four of his five starts have been quality.

The Angels' inability to re-sign Lackey could have implications for some of the younger players on the team, including Kendry Morales, Jered Weaver and Mike Napoli, who will reach free agency in the next few years. The long-term deals they have signed in recent seasons have been to players developed in other organizations.

"I really don't want to talk about it," Weaver said. "I'm here today. That's all that matters. I'd rather focus on Seattle."

Lackey, 31, said it won't be unusual to face his ex-teammates, because of the heavy turnover in the Angels' clubhouse. Only reliever Scot Shields and utility man Robb Quinlan were teammates of Lackey's in 2004. Shields is the only remaining member of the 2002 team.

Lackey said he and Scioscia talked after Game 5 of last year's American League Championship Series. In the game, Scioscia replaced Lackey in the seventh inning with Mark Teixeira about to come up. At the time, Lackey mouthed, "You must be [kidding] me. This one's mine."

"I respect Scioscia a ton. I think he respects me as a player," Lackey said. "We had a good relationship. He gave me the ball in big games. What else do you want as a starter? I won't get into it, but we had a good discussion about that."

The Angels expect to see Lackey's best effort Wednesday.

"He'll be unfazed," Scioscia said.

Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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