BOSTON -- John Lackey, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery he underwent on Nov. 1, should be able to pitch again in 2012, but not before the Major League season ends.
"[He] threw a light bullpen [session] yesterday and he's in the weight room. He's working extremely hard in his conditioning effort and in his rehabilitation effort," manager Bobby Valentine said. "I think the projections of him pitching before the year is out -- the calendar year -- I think he's right on schedule. I don't know about the season, but he'll be pitching somewhere before the year is over."
The recovery time for Tommy John surgery has decreased over time. The Red Sox had two pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery this season, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill. Matsuzaka turned in his best start of the season on Tuesday in a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays, while Hill is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left elbow.
"I think as the numbers have grown with these operations and the data gets in, they start to trim off some of the excess," Valentine said of the quick recoveries. "The rehab program is still conservative with everyone, but it has a lot more data to dictate how many days you really need for full recovery."
After going deep, Papi had thoughts of No. 400
BOSTON -- David Ortiz led off the eighth inning Wednesday afternoon having already hit one home run, the 399th of his career, in a 10-4 Red Sox win over the Blue Jays.
Wednesday was a get-away day ahead of a week-long West Coast swing, and that meant the eighth-inning trip could have been Ortiz's last chance to hit No. 400 in front of the home fans at Fenway Park. The milestone bomb will be meaningful in Seattle or Oakland, but probably not quite as sweet as if it were at home.
Ortiz didn't pretend he wasn't going for it when he struck out swinging -- hard -- against Blue Jays left-hander Luis Perez.
"Why not?" Ortiz said when asked if he was going for it, before winking, "I'll get it done when I get back."
Said teammate Dustin Pedroia: "Oh yeah, yeah. He was definitely trying to go to the moon. He took some pretty hard swings. Yeah, man, but it's coming obviously. Might be tomorrow."
Ortiz, who could end up with a career year if he keeps it up, wasn't in a reflective state of mind.
"Right now, that's something I don't really think about," said Ortiz, who went deep five times on the homestand. "I know at some point, when I'm not playing, you start realizing how good a career you probably had. Right now, my focus is just on contributions for this ballclub, trying to win some games and put ourselves in a better situation."
The Red Sox are winning, to the tune of nine of their last 11 games, and with his help. Ortiz's 21st homer of the season came in the fifth inning Wednesday off Toronto right-hander Jesse Chavez, and put him into a tie for 49th on MLB's all-time list with Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga. He's hitting .347 (14-for-49) with four doubles and eight homers and 16 RBIs in his last 15 games since June 10.
"No secret," Ortiz said. "Just see the ball and hit it, man. Keep it simple."
Red Sox sign first-round pick Johnson
BOSTON -- The Red Sox have signed all 12 of their picks from the first 10 rounds of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. First-rounder Brian Johnson, a left-hander and the team's second selection at No. 31 overall, and Austin Maddox, a third-round righty, were the last to complete deals.
Both pitchers are juniors out of the University of Florida.
According to Baseball America, the Red Sox spent $7,042,000 on their top 10 picks, which is $157,200 over their pick-value bonus pool. The Sox will be taxed on the money they went over, but they will not lose any Draft picks. They would have had to spend more than $344,200 beyond the pool -- or $7,228,200 -- for picks to have been forfeited.
Johnson signed for his $1.575 million slot value and Maddox signed for a reported $350,000, which is below his slotted pick value.
Johnson went 8-5 with a 3.90 ERA and 73 strikeouts compared to 18 walks in 17 starts and 90 innings for the Gators, who went to the College World Series. Maddox, the Gators' primary closer, went 3-3 with 12 saves, a 2.44 ERA, 57 strikeouts and 11 walks in 32 appearances and 55 1/3 innings.
So far, the Sox have signed 21 of their 42 picks.
Tejeda claimed off waivers by Pirates
BOSTON -- The Pirates claimed Oscar Tejeda, who's played both infield and outfield, off waivers from the Red Sox and assigned him to Double-A Altoona. Tejeda, 22, was designated for assignment when the Sox needed 40-man roster space following the Kevin Youkilis trade on Sunday.
To make room for Tejeda on Pittsburgh's 40-man roster, left-hander Doug Slaten was designated for assignment.
Tejeda, who's young and offensively capable, was MLB.com's No. 13 Red Sox prospect at the start of the 2012 season. He hit .262 (53-for-202) with 15 doubles, five home runs and 31 RBIs for Double-A Portland.
Red Sox exceeding Boyle's expectations.
BOSTON -- Three months into the season, strength and conditioning consultant Mike Boyle has found his time with the Red Sox exceeding expectations.
"It's actually been better than what I expected it to be. The guys are really good guys," Boyle said at a weekend event helping children learn about fitness. "I don't know if there's an image to be restored as much as there's just maybe, hopefully restoring some of the little attention to detail things. ... They're actually very professional. And I said this to somebody else, I didn't look at it like I was coming in to fix anything or anything like that, I'm coming in to hopefully help and provide some expertise in a particular area that can be useful to these guys, to help them do their job a little bit better."
Boyle, who's worked in all pro sports, said he's gained an even greater respect for the demands on ballplayers, particularly the position players.
"I think people underestimate what these guys have to do when you play 162 games in 180 days," Boyle said. "I've been around every professional sport, [and] this is not an easy thing to do. People say there's not a lot of demand physically, but there's a lot of demand in terms of reacting immediately to things. You've got to chase a ball, you've got to run after you hit the ball. There's a lot of stuff that puts a lot of stress on the body. And to have to do it, especially with the position players, day in and day out -- I've gained a lot of respect for these guys, and you realize this is not an easy thing to do."