As we try to envision exactly how the heck the Red Sox [team stats] will contend next year, here's a name worth remembering: John Lackey. The 33-year-old right-hander has been the invisible man for most of the season, which he has spent rehabbing from November Tommy John surgery.

Lackey is throwing again, and Sunday he'll make his first appearance in game conditions when he participates in an intrasquad Instructional League game in Fort Myers.

"It's been weird, for sure," Lackey said yesterday. "This is the first year of my life I haven't played baseball. .?.?. Getting back out there has been fun. You remember how much you like it and why you do it. It's definitely been a year where you miss competing and miss doing what I do."