Lackey preparing for season, not thinking retirement

Veteran right-hander makes second start of spring

March 13th, 2017

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Cubs may see 's son around the clubhouse a little more this year, but the veteran pitcher isn't planning on seeing the sights in Washington D.C., the way former teammate did in his farewell tour last season.

"He played a lot less than the rest of us," Lackey said of Ross. "He had plenty of time on his hands."

While Ross is tuning up for "Dancing with the Stars," Lackey is prepping for his 15th big league season -- and second with the Cubs. In Monday's 3-1 win over the Padres, Lackey scattered three hits over three innings, walked one and struck out one in his first Cactus League outing. Lackey also faced Team Italy in an exhibition game earlier this spring.

"It's still not there, but it was a nice step forward," said Lackey, who threw mostly fastballs and mixed in a couple of changeups.

As Lackey, 38, headed to the visitor's clubhouse at Peoria Sports Complex, he stopped by the Padres' dugout to say hello to former teammate , 34. The two played together on the Angels from 2006-09.

"It's kind of weird," Lackey said of their time together. "Some days it feels like it wasn't that long ago, and some days it feels like it was 100 years ago. We had a lot of good years. When he came up, I took care of him, and the last few years, he's been sending me cleats and stuff like that, hooking me up. It's kind of come full circle. He's a good buddy, and I'm happy he's still going."

How much longer will Lackey pitch? We may not know until the end of the season.

"More than anything, it's going to be what he's thinking, how he feels," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's got a young family, plenty of money in the bank. What does he want to do? I would think he'll evaluate his performance and how he feels at the end of the season, and make that determination.

"He loves the game, he's an absolute junkie. It'll be up to him, obviously. He's that kind of guy where he'll say, 'That's it,' and literally ride off into the sunset. If there's something he's feeling, and he wants to come back, he may do that."

Lackey isn't taking mental snapshots of each Spring Training ballpark, as he makes what might be his last spring tour. He's not complaining about the drive from Mesa to Peoria, because Lackey remembers his first spring start for the Red Sox was in Port St. Lucie, Fla. -- that drive took more than two hours across the state of Florida.

"I'm just going to try to win, man, every five days," Lackey said. "I'll maybe bring my son around a little bit more, that kind of stuff. I haven't even thought about [retirement]. When we get to the end of the season, we'll see where we're at and make a decision."