Smoltz nervous but ready for his first start

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John Smoltz returns tonight, and he’s a bit nervous about it:

“Hopefully I learn from some of those past experiences of what I call
two of the most anxious moments: first game as a closer and then my
first game back as a starter after five years, neither of which did I
do very well — and both of those years turned out to be great years,”
Smoltz said. “So I’m not going to get too caught up in whether or not
tomorrow is a success or a failure based on one start.”

I’m not exactly sure what Smotlz is referring to when he says he
didn’t do well in his first game as a closer. He went to the pen in
July of 2001, and in his first game back
he gave up no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out a guy against the
Expos. If he’s referring to the beginning of his first full season as
The Closer for the Braves — 2002 — he’s wrong too. In his first appearance that season he struck out two of the three men he faced and again didn’t allow a runner. It wasn’t until his second appearance — against the Mets — where he got shelled.

He was right, though, about his first game back as a starter. He was destroyed on Opening Day 2005 against the Marlins: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
AP Images
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.