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Red Sox pitcher John Lackey wonders why Angels didn't take one for the team

May 4, 2010 |  3:35 pm

Not that John Lackey is bitter, because the Angels "definitely made a run to try to keep me, for sure," he said, but the former Angels ace, who will start against his old teammates in Fenway Park on Wednesday night, couldn't help but notice the irony in the Red Sox outbidding the Angels for his services last winter.

"It is different," Lackey said when asked about the Angels' tendency to let their own veterans leave when they hit free agency. "The way they preach the team game, the way you're supposed to give it up for the team -- that's a little suspect. You're supposed to give up for the team; then when it comes time, they might not give it up for you. But I was prepared for that. That's the nature of the game today."

Lackey, who played the first 7 1/2 years of his big league career with the Angels, signed a five-year, $82.5-million deal with the Red Sox. The Angels' final offer, according to a source with direct knowledge of negotiations, was four years and $60 million.

Concerned about Lackey's injury history -- the right-hander missed the first six weeks of the 2008 and 2009 seasons because of elbow problems -- the Angels did not want to go more than four years on a contract with Lackey, even though he was their ace for the last four years.

Boston's offer made it easier for Lackey to go the way so many before him did: Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero, Francisco Rodriguez, Garret Anderson, Troy Percival, Troy Glaus, Bengie Molina, Darin Erstad, David Eckstein and Jarrod Washburn.

"Their track record speaks for itself," Lackey said. "I lost so many teammates over there, guys who went to other places. It prepares you for these things."

Lackey, who is 2-1 with a 4.50 earned run average in his first five starts this season, said the transition to a new club in a new city on a new coast has been smooth. The fact that Lackey is the No. 3 starter in Boston, behind Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, has eased the pressure somewhat.

"It's nice to relax a bit," Lackey said. "We have several guys who have done it, and it's fun to learn from different guys. We talk a lot about pitching on the bench."

But doesn't Lackey, who prided himself on being an ace, the "lead dog in the rotation," as Angels Manager Mike Scioscia often called him, miss having that label attached to his name?

"Whatever," Lackey said. "I know what I am. It doesn't matter. What matters is being in the playoffs and pitching in meaningful games."

-- Mike DiGiovanna in Boston