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article imageOp-Ed: Some sadness as Blue Jays, Bosox renew rivalry

By Mark J. Allan     Apr 6, 2013 in Sports
Toronto - The first series of the baseball season between the Blue Jays and Red Sox has saddened fans of both teams at various times.
What’s the saddest sight in the world?
A ship sinking beneath the waves?
The balance in your bank account?
How about a baseball pitcher making a comeback from major surgery clutching his throwing arm and being walked slowly off the field by the team’s trainer?
With a large, hostile crowd watching at Rogers Centre in Toronto, John Lackey threw his first “real” pitch Saturday in more than 18 months.
In spite of a two-run homer to put his Boston Red Sox behind 2-0, Lackey was throwing well in his first regular-season game since Sept. 25, 2011.
Looking trim and fit, the veteran right-hander had good command of his fastball and especially a breaking ball Blue Jay batters were having trouble picking up.
If you didn’t know, you would not have guessed it was Lackey’s return from Tommy John surgery.
Named after the veteran left-handed pitcher on whom the ground-breaking surgery was first performed in 1974, the operation involves an arm ligament being replaced by a tendon from elsewhere in the body.
Since it was brilliantly innovated by Dr. Frank Jobe, the operation has extended many a baseball pitcher’s career.
Still, throwing in a real big-league game after such a lengthy layoff is not easy no matter how successful the surgery and rehab have been.
Lackey, known as a bulldog starter who successfully battled many hitters for the Angels of California before coming to the East Coast as a free agent in 2009, looked like he was all the way back.
Until the bottom of the fifth inning.
Throwing a seriously inside pitch that forced red-hot Toronto leadoff man Jose Reyes to scramble out of the way, Lackey lurched to his left off the mound, grabbing his upper right arm.
He’s been diagnosed with a bicep strain, leaving the Bosox with a vacancy in their rotation’s No. 5 slot.
It remains to be seen who they promote, but Boston manager John Farrell could name somebody from the deep Red Sox bullpen or bring up one of their hotshot pitching prospects who include Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.
Perhaps even more interesting a storyline than Lackey’s comeback is Farrell’s return to Toronto.
The former Boston pitching coach had two undistinguished seasons as the manager in Toronto. Ever since he admitted last year that managing the Red Sox was his “dream job” – subsequently leaving the Jays and landing his dream job – Farrell has been dead to Toronto baseball fans.
Except you don’t usually turn out by the tens of thousands to lustily and loudly mock dead people.
Traitors, which is how Blue Jay fans see Farrell, well that’s different.
Hometown fans who shuffled silently out of Rogers Centre after a 6-4 loss Friday to Farrell and the Red Sox were much more animated Saturday after a 5-0 win.
The hopes of Red Sox Nation have taken an uptick with some canny off-season signings and the popular Farrell in the dugout instead of the despised Bobby Valentine.
The aspirations of Blue Jay fans, who also endured a frustrating 2012 season?
After GM Alex Anthopolous broke the bank with an orgy of free-agent signings, nothing less than Toronto’s first World Series triumph in 20 years will suffice.
The intrigue involving Farrell adds some spice to an American League East rivalry that has started the 2013 season with a bang, and could get even much hotter.
It remains to be seen whose fans will be a sadder sight at the end of the season.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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