Smoltz expects to make Red Sox debut next week

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During a radio interview this morning John Smoltz said
that he expects to make his Red Sox debut on either Tuesday or
Wednesday of next week “if everything goes the way it continues to go.”

Smoltz’s
arrival in Boston has been pushed back slightly, so he’ll make one
additional minor-league rehab start than initially expected after
allowing four runs in six innings last week at Triple-A.

Regardless
of whether his first start comes Tuesday or Wednesday it would be
against the Nationals, but interestingly starting Tuesday would line
him up to face the Braves in his second outing. If you’re into drama,
that’s the scenario to root for.

As of now Brad Penny is lined up
to pitch Tuesday, with Jon Lester slated for Wednesday, but there’s
been tons of speculation about Penny being traded to clear a spot for
Smoltz. Normally it would be a mistake to give up an asset like Penny
to make room for a pitcher who a) may not be a significant upgrade, and
b) comes with plenty of injury risk.

However, as Bob discussed this morning
Boston would still have plenty of rotation depth even if Penny is
traded and Smoltz’s comeback hits a snag. In fact, the Red Sox’s
overall pitching depth is so plentiful that Ken Rosenthal of
FOXSports.com reports that they’ve been shopping setup man Takashi Saito in the hopes of swapping him for a prospect.

Penny
has a 4.10 ERA and 38/9 K/BB ratio in eight starts since a poor April
and Saito has a 2.42 ERA with a 22/7 K/BB ratio in 22.1 innings
overall, which tells you how stacked the Red Sox are with quality arms.
Boston’s bullpen leads baseball with a 3.01 ERA and for now at least
MLB-ready top prospects Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden rank as the
team’s No. 7 and No. 8 starters.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.