Lackey Bests Price in Spring Training Debut

Starting slowly in his 12th MLB season, pitcher John Lackey made a strong first outing Monday.

John Lackey pitched three perfect innings in his spring training debut, outpitching David Price in the St. Louis Cardinals' 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Monday.

''There's definitely some things to work on, but the main goal of throwing fastballs, building arm strength and locating it - that was pretty good today,'' Lackey said.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny let the 36-year-old Lackey set his own pace during camp and it has paid off. The right-hander struck out four and needed only 37 pitches.

''We put the plan together based on what he wanted,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ''For us to say this is what we think you should do, for a guy who has been around as long as he has, I think is counter-productive.''

In his third outing of the spring, David Price was nearly as efficient as Lackey, throwing four scoreless innings of one hit ball while striking out five and walking one.

That was a lot better than five days ago, and a lot better than 10 days ago,'' Price said, referring to his first two spring starts. ''It was good to get out there and to be able, not only be efficient but to execute, for the most part when I was out there on the mound.''

Yoenis Cespedes returned to the Tigers lineup after missing a couple games with a quadriceps injury, and showed little sign of rust. He sent a pitch from Lackey to the right field warning track in the second inning and doubled off Carlos Villanueva in the fifth.

Pete Kozma had an RBI single.


Cardinals: Adam Wainwright threw a three-inning simulated game on Monday morning and ran some sprints afterward. An abdominal strain has slowed the Cardinals ace thus far, but Wainwright could make his first Grapefruit League start of the season this weekend.

Tigers: Justin Verlander is scheduled to make his third start of the spring on Tuesday. Verlander has yet to allow a run in five innings.


Cardinals: Center fielder Jon Jay was among the hitters to take hacks against Wainwright in the simulated game. He had two singles off the big righty. Jay has yet to appear in an exhibition game following offseason wrist surgery but that could change by the end of the week.

Tigers: Slugging third baseman Miguel Cabrera took batting practice with the team on the main field prior Monday's game. It marked the first time Cabrera, who underwent offseason ankle surgery, has taken batting practice on the road this spring. The Tigers have yet to announce a timetable for his first spring game appearance. ... Catcher Alex Avila, who has been dealing with back soreness, played in his first game since March 11. Avila stuck out in both plate appearances.


Cardinals manager Mike Matheny isn't worried about second baseman Kolton Wong's slow start to the spring. Wong has only two hits in 18 at-bats. ''I don't look at numbers right now,'' Matheny said. ''I look at at-bats and I've seen him take some really good at-bats.''


With Detroit moving third baseman Nick Castellanos to short right field as part of a defensive shift against Matt Adams, the power hitting lefty attempted, unsuccessfully, to bunt the ball to the left side for a hit. After two strikes Adams slashed a line drive to the third base side that went foul, then struck out looking. Afterward, Matheny reiterated his desire to see Adams steal some hits via the bunt in those situations this season.


Cardinals: Marco Gonzales will get his third start of the spring, going against Miami's Jarred Cosart.

Tigers: Verlander and the Tigers return to Lakeland to face Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals.

Link to box score: St. Louis (6-5-1) 1, Detroit (6-10) 0

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