Boston's Smoltz anxious to pitch again
WASHINGTON — After reflecting on the three weeks of sleepless nights that followed his shoulder surgery, John Smoltz sounded as if he might be tossing and turning one more time — this time out of sheer anxiousness over his first major league start for a team other than the Atlanta Braves.
Smoltz is scheduled to make his debut for the Boston Red Sox tonight, facing the Washington Nationals at the end of a long rehab that has sidelined him from the big leagues for more than a year.
"I wish I could probably sleep here," Smoltz said yesterday at Nationals Park, "and make sure I'm here tomorrow."
Smoltz's No. 29 jersey hung in a locker between the No. 49 of Tim Wakefield and the No. 34 of David Ortiz. Ortiz even helped shuffle the hoard of reporters into place for the start of Smoltz's remarks. The 42-year-old right-hander is the only pitcher to win 200 games and save 150, but he has never had a space to call his own in an American League clubhouse.
"This is not the old or the new or the done," Smoltz said. "It's just a new chapter in which when I have a baseball in my hand, I feel like I can make a pitch and do the things I have to do to take the sting out of the bat. And if that's the case, we'll progress and keep getting better every time out. But tomorrow is just one rung in the ladder to try and climb as far as I can to see how good I can be, and really at the end of the day to be in position to pitch in the playoffs."
Smoltz had shoulder surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder last June, eight days after his final game for the Braves. He became a free agent at the end of the season and signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Red Sox in January. He had a 1-1 record with a 2.63 ERA in six rehab starts.
Manager Terry Francona said Smoltz will be limited to 85-90 pitches tonight.
CC READY FOR METS
New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia threw in the bullpen before last night's game against the Atlanta Braves and said he'll be ready to start the opener of a weekend series against the New York Mets.
Sabathia threw 27 pitches after leaving his last start with tightness in his left biceps.
"I'm good," he said. "I threw all of my pitches. I'm looking forward to pitching on Friday," when the Yankees open an interleague series against their New York rivals.
Sabathia, who is 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA, left last Sunday's game against Florida in the second inning, and manager Joe Girardi was worried the left-hander wouldn't be able to make his next scheduled start.
Braves' Kawakami hit by liner: Atlanta pitcher Kenshin Kawakami left his start against the New York Yankees after being struck at the base of his neck by a line drive hit by Joba Chamberlain in the third inning last night. The injury wasn't serious and no X-rays were needed. The team said Kawakami was day to day with a bruise at the right base of his neck.
A's rookie Outman out: Oakland rookie pitcher Josh Outman has been put on the disabled list because of a sprained left elbow. The A's were still waiting for team orthopedist Dr. John Frazier to evaluate test results before speculating how long he would be sidelined.
Marlins' Lindstrom on DL: The Florida Marlins placed closer Matt Lindstrom on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right elbow. Lindstrom is 2-1 with a 6.52 ERA with 14 saves in 16 opportunities, but was hit hard in his last two appearances.
Yankees trade reliever: The New York Yankees traded reliever Jose Veras to the Cleveland Indians for cash. The 28-year-old right-hander was 3-1 with a 5.96 ERA in 25 games before the Yankees designated him for assignment June 16.
Reds' Volquez still hurting: Cincinnati will have to make do without right-hander Edinson Volquez for a little bit longer. On the disabled list since June 2 with tendinitis in his right elbow, Volquez hoped to resume throwing within the next couple of days. But an MRI revealed the inflammation has not subsided.
Nationals juggle bullpen: Tyler Clippard (4-1 with a 0.92 ERA) has been promoted from Triple-A Syracuse and Kip Wells has been designated for assignment by Washington. Wells walked two, allowed two runs and retired only one batter during Boston's six-run eighth inning Tuesday night.