John Smoltz closing in on Red Sox debut

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John Smoltz’s minor-league rehab outing last week at Double-A drew mixed reviews, as scouts in attendance were far from impressed with his post-surgery stuff despite 3.1 innings of one-run ball.

He took the mound again yesterday at high Single-A and allowed one run
over five innings. While there’s no scouting report on his outing, it’s
safe to assume that Smoltz looked pretty decent while striking out six, walking zero, allowing just four hits, and throwing 52 of 73 pitches for strikes.

“I felt really good,” Smoltz said.
“I think I’m going to get a little more complete each time. For the
most part, I’m really pleased with today’s effort. I felt really fresh
in the fifth inning, even though it’s the longest stint I’ve had.”

Smoltz has a 1.59 ERA and 10/0 K/BB ratio through three rehab
outings and will now move up to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he’s
scheduled to make two starts before potentially being cleared to join
the Red Sox’s rotation.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.