Will the fourth time be the charm for John Lackey and the Red Sox?

Actually, as Take 4 of the Lackey era starts this afternoon, the better question might be is Lackey healthy for the first time since he came to Boston in 2010?

The answer just might be yes, which finally could make this Lackey reincarnation the one the Sox have been waiting for.

Mike Napoli knows there’s a good chance Lackey will be much better than he was in 2010, 2011 and 2012 with the Sox. When Lackey was pitching at a high level with the Los Angeles Angels from 2006-09, Napoli caught most of his games. He caught a dominant pitcher, someone who would challenge batters on the inner half of the plate, spin a knee-buckling curveball, spot a hard fastball and generally make batters ultra-uncomfortable.

As soon as Lackey left Los Angeles for the Sox, Napoli saw a different pitcher.

“He wasn’t the same,’’ Napoli said before last night’s 8-4 win against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park. “You could tell then. His arm slot, too, it wasn’t where it used to be. I saw him in spring training this year and that first start (in Toronto). It was like the old days where his slot was. He was free. His arm was free. You could tell he was hurting (after leaving the Angels). He was just trying to battle through it. He had signed a big contract, come to Boston, he gave all he had and it just wasn’t there.’’

The right biceps strain Lackey sustained more than three weeks ago in his abbreviated season debut no longer is a problem, manager John Farrell said. And the elbow ligament tear that played a big role in Lackey getting knocked around for most of the 2011 season and led to Tommy John surgery (which cost him the entire 2012 campaign) is in the past.

In 2010, Lackey was a horse, leading the team in innings (215) and starts (33). At first glance, it seems like there could not have been anything wrong.