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04/30/09 8:31 PM ET

Red Sox pondering Smoltz's next step

Rehabbing right-hander to join the club on Saturday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Now that the Red Sox have slowed right-hander John Smoltz in his throwing program, the veteran will join the club at Tropicana Field on Saturday. Smoltz had been doing his rehab at extended spring training in Fort Myers for the past couple of weeks.

Until further notice, Smoltz will stay under the supervision of the Major League training staff.

After conferring with Smoltz this weekend, the Red Sox will try to get a better handle on how to proceed with his program.

Smoltz had started throwing batting practice last week, and was nearing a start in an extended spring training game before he and the club decided to apply the brakes.

"I think the way he put it was, if he was already in the game, he wouldn't think about [slowing down]," said manager Terry Francona. "OK, but he's not. The whole idea is to look at the big picture, so that's basically what it is."

All along, the plan had been for Smoltz to join the rotation around June 1. Perhaps it will be a bit later now, though the Sox have made no specific determination.

"We've been talking to him a bunch and trying to do what's in his best interest," said Francona. "We're just trying to do the right thing. He flew through it so fast. It's hard not to get excited. You want him, when he does come back, to be able to finish strong. Sometimes [after] the little week or whatever of strengthening, if there's inflammation or grinding, let it settle down. I think that's the best way to put it."

The Red Sox don't feel as though Smoltz -- who underwent surgery to repair his labrum last June, when he was with the Braves -- has had a setback. It could be more a case of a pitcher going through a typical dead-arm phase during Spring Training.

"I think that's fair to say," Francona said. "The only thing is, he's coming off surgery. His volume and his workload have really increased. When you talk to [assistant trainer] Mikey [Reinold] or [pitching coach] John Farrell, I don't think there is any surprise that sometimes [this happens]. This is almost built in [to the rehab program]."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.