By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Cubs right-hander John Lackey has typically been a man of few words and big action.
On Sunday, the spotlight shifted back to him, as Lackey came out of the bullpen for the first time this season as the team prepares for the playoffs. In a 3-1 loss to the Reds at Wrigley Field in the regular-season finale, Lackey handled the fourth inning for the Cubs in relief of left-hander Mike Montgomery. He allowed one run on two hits and struck out two in his lone inning.
It was the first time since 2004, when he was with the Angels, that Lackey pitched out of the bullpen in the regular season. He also pitched out of the bullpen for the Red Sox in the 2013 postseason.
With several rotation questions as the ready for the Nationals in the National League Division Series, the Cubs are looking to figure out how Lackey can best help them.
“We wanted to give him a test out of the bullpen and see what it looked like,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We wanted to see how he felt. He gave up a run, but I thought he had a really good slider coming out of the pen. His velocity was normal. He looked pretty good. It is an option.”
Lackey’s opinion on the matter isn’t known. When approach by media members at his locker postgame, Lackey declined an interview and left for another area of the clubhouse.
It’s likely the 38-year-old Lackey will accept his assignment to the bullpen and take the ball if called upon in relief.
“Is it amenable or amenable?” Maddon said in changing the pronunciation of the word to describe Lackey’s approval of the role. “It is one of those two.”
A long-man role for Lackey would be a fallback measure for the Cubs in case a starter gets hit hard early or injured. Maddon will reveal his rotation sometime before a workout in Washington D.C. on Thursday. Game 1 is Friday night.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.