Two weeks ago, when a rainout and a scheduled day off left the Red Sox idle for 48 hours, manager Terry Francona decided to skip John Lackey's turn in the rotation in order to avoid messing up the routines of the other four starting pitchers.

To the big right-hander, though, Francona's good intentions mattered little.

"It (ticked) me off," Lackey said yesterday.

Lackey, a 10-year veteran, is intensely proud. As a rookie, he started and won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series, and his former manager, Mike Scioscia, often talks about the "imprint" he left after eight seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

Being leapfrogged in the rotation, regardless of the reason, felt like more than merely a slap in the face. It was a roundhouse to the jaw.