Saturday, February 14, 2009

Red Sox Will Go Slow with John Smoltz

No, that old guy in the red sweats isn't part of the grounds crew. That's future Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz.

The 42-year-old former Brave -- bald, a bit scraggly and unshaven and with just a hint of a tummy -- arrived at Red Sox camp in Fort Myers, Fla., without missing a beat, taking part in conditioning drills with other players young enough to be his sons, never giving a hint that he was anything but his familiar, indomitable, unrestrainable, competitive old self.

"I don't doubt that there's going to be times when we have to sit on him, and we will," manager Terry Francona told The Boston Globe.

Francona envisions Smoltz returning to action by June 1, coming along slowly as he recovers from shoulder surgery. How Smoltz feels and performs -- and how the Red Sox rotation and bullpen is doing -- likely will help determine whether he will start or come out of the pen.