— The Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After starting the previous two seasons on the disabled list, Red Sox starter John Lackey is trying a new approach to spring training in hopes of being ready from the get-go in Boston.

Lackey, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract in the offseason as baseball’s prized pitching free agent, said he will be more conservative in his first camp with Boston.

Lackey started 2008 on the DL with a strained right triceps and 2009 with inflammation in his right elbow. He threw approximately 40 pitches in a side session Thursday, the reporting day for Sox pitchers and catchers.

”I think I’m definitely going to be a little bit more careful this year,” he said ”Because I definitely want to start on time and I want to get out of the gate strong and help as much as I can.”

He joins a rotation that projects to be among the strongest in baseball with Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz and possibly Tim Wakefield.

”I think good pitchers feed off each other,” Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said. ”You try to build momentum. It works both ways. If you’re struggling, good pitchers stop bad momentum. You can’t come up with a good reason not to have a good pitcher pitching. You name it, it’s nice to run a good pitcher out there.”

Matsuzaka also is trying to do things differently this spring after winning just four games in an injury-plagued 2009.

He worked out in Tempe, Ariz., during the offseason for the first time to improve his overall conditioning. He appears to be in better shape, but a back ailment limited his workouts this week.

He downplayed the extent of the injury, calling it ”just a little bit of fatigue that built up,” but acknowledged that in the past he might have kept the information to himself.

Matsuzaka, who is in the fourth year of a six-year, $51 million deal, said he learned a few things last year, when communication with the team about his injuries and conditioning became a problem.

”I think that if a similar situation had happened in the past I feel like I have a pretty high pain tolerance,” Matsuzaka said through an interpreter, Masa Hoshino. ”So if I can tolerate the pain, and still somehow play through, and be able to do what I had to do, I think I would have taken a lot of that on myself.

”But I definitely don’t want to make the same mistakes that were made last year. So right now I think it’s important for me to talk about my condition and share that with the team in as much detail as possible.”

MARLINS: Mike MacDougal, a former All-Star pitcher, signed a minor-league contract with Florida and was invited to spring training.

CARDINALS: St. Louis hired Mike Matheny, a former catcher, as a special assistant in player development.

ANGELS: Infielder Erick Aybar and Los Angeles agreed to a $2.05 million, one-year contract that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

NATIONALS: Left-hander Ross Detwiler will miss at least three months after undergoing surgery this week to repair torn right hip cartilage.

PIRATES: Reliever Joel Hanrahan will miss the start of the regular season because of an injured right elbow and there’s no timetable for his return.