BOSTON -- Right-hander John Lackey admits that he has a considerable amount of excitement about the opportunity he will get on Saturday, when he'll face hitters for the first time in 2012.
Lackey will throw batting practice to teammates, marking the first time he's thrown to hitters since last season.
Following the 2011 season, Lackey underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
"I feel good, real good," said Lackey. "We're moving in the right direction, that's for sure."
The goal is for Lackey to pitch a couple of innings before the season ends. With the Minor League seasons ready to wind down, the perk for Lackey is that he might get to pitch those innings for the Red Sox instead of through a rehab assignment.
"Lack has been throwing really [well] in the bullpen," said manager Bobby Valentine. "Now we'll set up some hitters for him tomorrow. I don't know if he's fully recovered, but it sure is close. He's really throwing the ball well."
Ortiz unlikely to return to action this season
BOSTON -- The Red Sox haven't officially ruled out seeing David Ortiz for the rest of the season, but they've certainly placed it in the "unlikely" department.
"[General manager] Ben [Cherington] mentioned that to me the other day. I'm not sure that that's the official word yet," said manager Bobby Valentine.
According to Valentine, Cherington told him, "Well, prepare just in case he's not going to come back."
The star slugger has played just one game since July 16, the night he strained his right Achilles.
With the Red Sox out of realistic contention for a postseason spot, there doesn't seem to be much point in having Ortiz risk further injury.
Ortiz is again a free agent this winter, but the Red Sox would like to have him back.
"It's not really my call," Valentine said. "I mean, if he's healthy and he loves to play the game of baseball, he could always go out there and bat it around a little. I'd hate to jeopardize his career, that's for sure."
Ortiz returned from the disabled list on Aug. 24, and hit a single and a double that night against the Royals. But he felt discomfort running and was again shut down the next day.
While the Red Sox were on the West Coast, Ortiz had a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection.
"He's feeling good," Valentine said. "He's going to come up and work with [physical therapist] Mike [Reinold] here soon, but I haven't heard anything about any baseball activities that are planned."
Atchison to be activated from DL on Wednesday
BOSTON -- Reliever Scott Atchison will likely be activated from the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday, the first day he is eligible to return.
The righty has felt well during his Minor League rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket. He earned the win in a playoff game on Thursday, throwing 1 1/3 shutout innings.
Atchison's recovery from a UCL injury continues to be impressive, since he and the team both feared at one point he was going to need to undergo Tommy John surgery.
"It's going good," Atchison said. "I feel good -- arm feels good. I'm bouncing back and feeling good the next day. I got some good results, and that makes it a little easier. But like I said, everything feels good, and I'll just keep moving forward."
Before sustaining his injury right after the All-Star break, Atchison was one of Boston's best pitchers, going 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 37 games.
Valentine trying to tune out negativity
BOSTON -- As the Red Sox returned to Fenway following a 1-8 road trip, manager Bobby Valentine did his best to tune out all the negativity that has surrounded him of late.
Amid a week in which his job security has been debated in various news outlets, Valentine is simply trying to help his team achieve something positive in the final 24 games.
"As much as some people question when I say I don't read [negative articles] and I don't listen to it, I don't," Valentine said. "So it's easy to block it out, because I'm not there. I hear about it once in a while, but whatever. If you're 30 games in first place and you start reading and listening to everyone say how great you are, it's just as distracting as the opposite, which is the case right now."
Valentine's immediate goal is for the Red Sox to start the homestand on a good note.
"Well, I'm hoping they got the lousy taste out of all those losses out of their mouth on the off-day," he said. "I think they're looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd here. Everyone seems to be healthy, that's good news."
The Fenway crowd has had varying reactions to Valentine. He was booed vociferously in April, but during the last homestand, he got a rousing ovation while being ejected from a game.
It remains to be seen how the fans will view him in light of recent things he has said, not to mention the way the team has played.
"It's their game," he said. "Whatever they deem it to be. Hopefully we play well and it will be a good day for everyone."