June 25, 2009 in Sports

Baseball notebook: Smoltz gets wake-up call

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

John Smoltz is ready to take the mound for Boston.
(Full-size photo)

By the numbers

18: Hitting streak for Jason Bartlett, tying the Tampa Bay franchise record.

1,000: Career RBIs for Boston’s David Ortiz.

.446: Scott Rolen’s batting average during his last 13 games for Toronto.

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 Wednesday 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 …”

Clearing the bases

New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia threw in the bullpen 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. … Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge is expected to be reinstated from the 15-day disabled list today. Lidge has been sidelined with a sprained right knee since June 7. … Gary Sheffield had a cortisone shot behind his right knee and was held out of the depleted New York Mets’ lineup for the third straight game. … Oakland rookie pitcher Josh Outman has been put on the disabled list because of a sprained left elbow. He is 4-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 14 games this season. … Florida put closer Matt Lindstrom on the 15-day DL with a sprained right elbow, one day after he blew a three-run lead.

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