John Smoltz makes his anticipated return to the mound on Thursday. It
is also his anticipated debut for the Boston Red Sox, who signed him
away from Atlanta in the offseason after the Braves showed somewhat
tepid interest in keeping their aging star.
There is one problem with Smoltz’s return, it would have been a lot more fun if it had come a day or two later.
On Thursday, Smoltz will take the mound in Washington against
baseball’s worst team – the Washington Nationals. On Friday, Boston
begins a three-game series at Turner Field against the Atlanta Braves.
Clearly the Red Sox are easing the veteran right-hander back into things, and Smoltz himself says that’s fine with him.
“I’m not afraid of any challenge or anything that comes about. It’s
just, I’ve got to be realistic to see that this scenario would have
been much more than just a regular first-game start.”
Smoltz already paid respects to his former teammates when the Braves
were in Boston this past week, but it still would’ve been fun to have
them face off against each other. Now the only way that happens this
year is if both teams reach the World Series – unlikely to say the
Meanwhile, Boston fans, already undoubtedly pleased with Dice-K’s trip to the disabled list,
can get excited about adding another strong, veteran pitcher to the
rotation. A guy who has made it a habit to be dominant on the mound, even when injured.
“Even when he’s not healthy, his numbers don’t fluctuate,” marveled
Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. “He’s had a remarkable career.”
FIVE SERIES TO WATCH
long way toward determining whether the Mets can hang with the
contenders for the rest of the season.
The Cubs enter the week on a four-game winning streak and have climbed
within 2 ½ games of the NL Central lead. The White Sox have won two
straight and have climbed within throwing distance of .500.
Yankees at Mets, June 26-28: The Subway Series, Part Deux. The
Yankees took two of three at Yankee Stadium, but now we’re travelling
to Queens. Will it make a difference? Will A-Rod take a break?
ON THE TUBE
Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Cardinals at Mets (ESPN2)
Wednesday, 7:10 p.m.: Yankees at Braves (ESPN2)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Cubs at White Sox (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Red Sox at Braves (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Angels at Diamondbacks (FOX)
Sunday, 1:30 p.m.: Red Sox at Braves (TBS)
Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Yankees at Mets (ESPN)
*Check local listings