Smoltz's rehab start pushed to Friday
Rain forces postponement; plan for Sox's rotation unsettled
BOSTON -- John Smoltz was poised to make his final Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday night at Syracuse, only to have rain intervene and force a postponement.
The right-hander will instead have to wait until Friday to make that turn, after which he will confer with the Red Sox to find out exactly when he is entering their rotation.
Though there was some thought that Smoltz would debut on Tuesday night at Fenway Park against the Marlins, returning on Wednesday or Thursday is now more likely. This means that Smoltz probably won't pitch against his former team, the Atlanta Braves, when they come to Fenway from June 19-21. However, Smoltz still could be in for an emotional start at Atlanta, where the Red Sox will play from June 26-28.
"After he pitches [at Triple-A], we'll sit down with Smoltzy and just make sure we're all on the same page," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "When I say on the same page -- he's been tremendous. We are on the same page. But, again, when you activate somebody, there has to be another move. He understands that. Our next move is to wait for him to get done pitching, sit down with him, see how he comes through his start -- and then we'll go from there."
The Red Sox have a rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny. With such an established group, would there be any thought to going with a six-man rotation?
"We've had a lot of discussions," said Francona. "I don't blame anyone for asking. It's a really interesting subject. I just don't think we feel the need to do it prematurely through the media. It doesn't make any sense to me. If I'm doing nothing to stop the speculation, go ahead. We're just not ready to make an announcement before we're supposed to. It doesn't help us at all."
As for Smoltz, he's now almost all the way back from the right shoulder surgery he had on June 10, 2008, while he was still a member of the Braves.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.