Lackey a wild card in Boston

If the Boston Red Sox plan on playing October baseball, they will need improvement from up and down a rotation that ranked 27th in starter’s ERA last season at 5.19 ERA.

We know ace Jon Lester needs a bounce-back season and free agent signee Ryan Dempster needs to contribute immediately, but a wild card in the equation is John Lackey, who missed last season following Tommy John surgery, but now is in “the best condition he has been in in years,” writes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.

In an interview on WEEI Radio, manager John Farrell says Lackey has lost 12 to 15 pounds.

The Red Sox have little to show for the five-year, $82 million commitment to Lackey, who has a 5.26 ERA in his first two season in Boston. With two years remaining on the contract, Lackey, a 19-game winner in 2007, has time to change his reputation in Boston and become a lean, mean fighting machine.

Lackey tells the Boston Globe Tuesday he has no regrets about signing with the Red Sox.