One small step for Smoltz is big one
Righty ready for first bullpen session Wednesday, to throw 30 pitches
TAMPA, Fla. -- For a man who is likely to be in the Hall of Fame some day, how exciting is a mere side session at 9 a.m.?
Enough, apparently, to have John Smoltz tossing and turning in anticipation rather than sleeping. The right-hander will get up off the mound for his first true bullpen session of camp on Wednesday, which means he can officially start the process of being on a pitching program instead of a rehab program.
Though Smoltz had left for the day by the time the Red Sox's clubhouse opened on Tuesday, he relayed his anticipation to manager Terry Francona.
"He was telling me today, 'I won't sleep tonight.' He was all bouncing off the walls," Francona said.
The Red Sox have Smoltz slotted for about 30 pitches.
"The reason we're saying 30 is because he's probably going to want to throw 100," Francona said. "He's actually been on the mound, it's where he finishes up every time he throws. [But this is] like a full-fledged, honest, side day.
"He's excited, because now it's real. It's scheduled, it's there. He'll start trying to follow the glove a little bit. He was all fired up today. He said, 'It's time to reintroduce myself to the strike zone.' He should be excited. He's worked so hard, and he looks so good. Now, I think we're going to start seeing the fruits of that. He'll be excited."
Smoltz is expected to debut for the Red Sox around June 1.
Short hops: Right fielder J.D. Drew has been cleared to return to the lineup for Wednesday's road game against the Reds. Drew suffered a contusion of his right hand when he was hit by a pitch on Friday. "Everything is headed in the right direction," Drew said. "It's kind of boring sitting around and watching and waiting. It will be nice to get out there and get some at-bats and get myself rolling again. We're getting down to the nitty-gritty right now, I need to get some at-bats. We'll be ready to roll." ... Brad Penny came through Monday's Grapefruit debut just fine. "Yeah, he's fine," Francona said. "He's upbeat and feeling good about himself. That's good. Nothing is lingering. He said he felt good." ... First baseman Kevin Youkilis felt no ill effects from his return to exhibition play on Monday. Youkilis, who had a mild sprain in his left ankle as well as Achilles tendinitis, will again play on Wednesday. ... Jon Lester pitched a Minor League game on Tuesday, giving up 10 hits and four runs over six innings. The lefty got up to 91 pitches, the most by any Sox starter this spring, excluding Daisuke Matsuzaka, who reeled off 98 at the World Baseball Classic on Sunday.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.