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Lackey hopes to return Sunday at Fenway vs. Astros

BOSTON -- John Lackey's first Minor League rehab game went so well that the right-hander suspects there won't be another one.

Assuming everything goes smoothly the next couple of days, look for Lackey to take the ball for the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park against the Astros.

"Oh, I know [where I'll be pitching]," said Lackey. "I just can't tell you guys. I'm going to get some treatment and that sort of stuff. I'm sure they'll tell you guys something here in the next day or so."

Manager John Farrell did hint that the club could send Lackey to Fenway Park next time out instead of back to the Minors.

"Right now, his scheduled bullpen [session] would be on Thursday, and provided he comes out of that, which we fully expect him to come out of that OK, we'll have an update on where his next start would be and the potential to start here for us is a real one," Farrell said.

On April 6, in his first regular-season start since Tommy John surgery, Lackey sustained a strained right bicep against the Blue Jays.

Lackey fired 3 2/3 shutout innings at Double-A Portland on Monday, throwing 67 pitches.

"I felt pretty good," said Lackey. "It was pretty cold, so it was a pretty good test to get out there and get through that in the cold, so it was good. I didn't have any issues. I was good in between innings and felt like I was locating pretty good."

Obviously, Lackey will be on a pitch count his first start back. Five innings would probably be realistic of what the Red Sox are hoping for.

"He got up and down four times and we feel like, if he were to make that start here, we would have multi-inning protection behind him," Farrell said. "That's where we're at today. I think Thursday's bullpen will have a lot to say as far as our next step."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.
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