John Lackey, Jered Weaver to put friendship aside during faceoff

Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey returned to his locker Friday to find a text message that made him grin wide and respond quickly.

Angels ace Jered Weaver may be Lackey's opposing pitcher Sunday night, but the friendship rooted in their past as teammates still runs deep.

Lackey was on the short list of friends and family who received the text from Weaver on Friday that his wife, Kristin, had just delivered a baby, Aden David Weaver, 8 pounds, 21 inches long.

"Just got him from the delivery room," Lackey said. "It's awesome."

The 34-year-old right-hander who won nine games during the Angels' 2002 World Series season and was 19-9 with a 3.01 earned-run average in 2007 has recovered this year from two subpar seasons at Fenway Park (a combined 26-23 with a 6.41 ERA in 2012).

Lackey is 6-5 with a 2.81 ERA marked by improved command, such as his 18 walks given up in 86-plus innings.

The Texan was there when Weaver debuted in the majors in 2006, and they hit it off.

"The time that Jered came here, John was established as one of the top right-handers in the game," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "The way John prepared himself for games … he was the mentor you want young pitchers to see. Jered benefited a lot from John. They were very close."

Weaver started 9-0 during his 11-2 rookie campaign and was 16-8 in 2009, before Lackey left via free agency and Weaver took over his locker — the one belonging to the staff's most distinguished starter.

"One of the things we first talked about was stuff he needed to do in between starts … workouts, things to keep healthy, to maintain your body and stuff for 162 games," Lackey said. "Pitching every five days is a lot different than pitching once a week in college."

Lackey said he maintains communication with Weaver, 30, keeps an eye on his outings and says "it's been fun to watch" how "great he's done in the league."

They met socially last month when the Angels visited Boston.

The relationship is partially brotherly and mostly just being "good buddies," Lackey said.

Just after 5 p.m. Sunday on ESPN, the bond will be altered by competition, with Weaver aiming to answer Lackey's July 27, 2010, victory over Weaver when both lasted into the eighth inning.

"The mentor stuff is out the window now," Lackey said. "It's just peers now. He's done very good for himself."

Williams back in

Jerome Williams will return to the Angels' starting rotation Saturday night after getting blasted for seven earned runs in just 12/3 innings Wednesday, Scioscia announced.

As the Angels deal with starters Tommy Hanson (strained right forearm) and Jason Vargas (left armpit blood clot) on the disabled list, Scioscia weighed Williams, with 10 starts this season, against Garrett Richards and left-hander Michael Roth.

"Williams only threw like 50 pitches a couple days ago; that's like a power bullpen," Scioscia said. "He feels good and has bounced back whatever we've asked him to do."

Scioscia said it's possible Weaver will start Friday in Seattle, with Williams going Saturday.

Short hops

Hanson threw a second bullpen session Friday. … Scioscia said the tying home run by Josh Hamilton on Thursday has been the brightest point "of a progression" in improvement the slugger has made in the 20-30 at-bats that preceded the hit.

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