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Don't rush to judgment on Lackey

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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Based on what we know now, no one should pass judgment on Boston Red Sox right-hander John Lackey.

Not on his postgame rant to reporters Sunday night. Not on the TMZ report that he is divorcing his wife, Krista, who has been battling breast cancer.

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Not yet.

Lackey must be allowed the chance to confirm whether the TMZ report is true. And if it is, he must be allowed the chance to put the report in context.

In early August, Lackey told me that Krista had finished her latest round of chemotherapy and was doing “great.” Even getting him to confirm that much was difficult. Lackey is intensely private and did not want his wife’s illness to be perceived as an excuse for his poor performance.

Now this.

It sounds horrible — a man divorcing his wife as she tries to beat cancer. But only Lackey and his wife know what the actual story is, if there is an actual story at all.

Lackey is emotional; anyone who has watched him pitch can see that. He was highly emotional speaking to reporters Sunday night after the Red Sox’s dramatic 14-inning victory over the Yankees — one of his better outings of the season.

“Let me tell you the truth. Thirty minutes before the game, I got a text message on my cellphone from one of you . . . somebody in the media, talking about personal stuff,” Lackey said.

“And I shouldn’t even be standing up here having to deal with it. I’m sitting here listening to music. I don’t know who got my phone number, but that’s over the line.”

I was present when Lackey spoke. None of the assembled reporters had any idea what he was talking about. But after the game, TMZ reported that he had filed for divorce in Texas on Aug. 30 from Krista, his wife of less than three years.

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Baseball writers generally do not report on such matters. But players today receive the same scrutiny as other celebrities do from web sites such as TMZ.

Lackey, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million free-agent contract with the Red Sox before the 2010 season, is a highly paid member of one of the game’s highest-profile teams. Whether it’s fair or not, he cannot escape the current media culture — the downside of success in the 21st century.

I tweeted Monday morning about the TMZ report that Lackey was getting divorced, and the fact his wife has battled breast cancer. Some fans had an immediate negative reaction, and maybe their reaction will prove justified.

But let’s hear Lackey’s side first.

We still don’t know if the text he received was from a TMZ reporter, but the nature of the story and the timing of its release would seem to explain his agitated state after the game.

It bears repeating: Before passing judgment, we need to know more.

Tagged: Red Sox, John Lackey

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