FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Lackey will get a reward for all the hard work he has done to bounce back from Tommy John surgery when he takes the ball for the Red Sox in Saturday's Grapefruit League opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:35 p.m. ET.
The righty will go just one inning, but it's likely one that he will savor. This will be the first time Lackey has pitched in a game for the Red Sox since Sept. 25, 2011 at Yankee Stadium.
"For anybody who's gone through Tommy John, you can identify with some of the things he's gone through," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Certainly the rehab can be very lonely. I'm hopeful that John will be able to reflect back on the year-plus that he's worked his tail off to get to the point where he's back in a Major League setting. [Saturday's] a significant day for him, and certainly for us as we form this rotation going through camp."
Not only is Lackey throwing the ball well, but he's doing it with a new-and-improved physique.
"He's felt great physically," Farrell said. "His arm has shown the looseness we're accustomed to seeing with the Angels and really his first year here. I know one thing, he feels really good about himself from a physical standpoint, and it's translated into some confidence right now. [Saturday] begins his progression toward the start of the regular season."
Papi increases intensity in spring drills
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Ortiz has ramped up the intensity of his running drills, and he participated in a lengthy agility drill on Friday.
"It's going good," Ortiz said. "I'm increasing things every day. I feel fine. I feel fine doing that. Sometimes I get a little sore after a couple of rough days, but the doctor says it's normal. I'm just doing things that I wasn't able to so your body -- your foot -- has to get used to it. Once you get used to it, it will be fine."
There's no timetable just yet for the star slugger to get in a Grapefruit League game, but Ortiz should be cleared to run the bases fairly soon.
The designated hitter, coming off a serious right Achilles injury last year, is enthused by the improvement of the injury and remains confident he will play on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 1.
"I'd like to be in a game tomorrow," said Ortiz. "But we're just being smart, not trying to rush. I've got another six weeks still [until Opening Day]. They want to make sure that when I'm in, there's no setback."
First baseman Mike Napoli -- who has avascular necrosis in his hips -- also continues to make solid progress.
"We're likely to see Mike Napoli start to get on the bases on Sunday, to advance that program," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "That's right in line with the calendar that we've set out. He's responded very well. He feels very well physically."
De La Rosa impressing Red Sox at camp
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- One pitcher that Red Sox fans should pay close attention to this spring is Rubby De La Rosa, the righty who was a centerpiece in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers last August for Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.
De La Rosa underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011. But the Red Sox have him on a more conservative program than the one for John Lackey. The righty will pitch in two-inning stints for all of Spring Training.
While special assistant to the general manager Pedro Martinez has spent a lot of time this spring with De La Rosa, manager John Farrell has also seen the righty enough to be impressed.
"He's been impressive, not just in terms of the sheer stuff, but his ability to manipulate the baseball," said Farrell. "He's got a good feel for his changeup, he can throw his breaking ball for strikes. But we're dealing with a set of circumstances that are different than John's coming off Tommy John. We'll be a little bit more slow-paced with Rubby, but he's been impressive early on. We'll keep him to those two-inning stints throughout camp."
Jay-Z, Timberlake to play Fenway in August
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake will play at Fenway Park in an Aug. 10 concert, it was announced on Friday.
Tickets for the Legends of the Summer tour will go on sale on Thursday at livenation.com.
The duo has more than 23 Grammy Awards, 67 million albums sold and two Emmys combined, according to a release.