Smoltz scratched; Wellemeyer to start
Cardinals right-hander John Smoltz has been scratched from his scheduled Monday start due to tendinitis in his right shoulder. He expects to take his next turn, on Sunday, Sept. 20 at home against the Cubs. Todd Wellemeyer will pitch in Smoltz’s place on Monday.
Smoltz downplayed the issue, but was still appreciative of the chance to get the needed rest. He received a shot of anti-inflammatory medicine to ease the pain he was feeling, and will not throw a bullpen session between now and when he makes his next start.
“At this point, the easy thing to do is give me rest and I’ll be ready,” Smoltz said. “I’ll be fine. I’ve pitched through all kinds of tendinitis before. But at this point, it gives me a nice opportunity to give me five days off and feel good about my next start. … Certainly, like I’ve said many times before, if it was a playoff start, I’m sure I could have cranked it up. Any tendinitis, once you get heated, you’re fine.”
Manager Tony La Russa didn’t hesitate to give Smoltz the break.
“He’s got a little tendinitis in his shoulder, so we’ll get him some treatment,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He said he’s had it before. We’ll slip Wellemeyer in on Monday and plan on John for next weekend.”
The Cardinals had several potential candidates for the spot, including Mitchell Boggs and Brad Thompson. Boggs acquitted himself well in recent starts but will remain in the bullpen. Wellemeyer scuffled in an earlier start against Florida this year, but La Russa pointed to two very good starts for the right-hander against the Marlins in 2008.
“Boggs was considered,” La Russa said. “I think Todd was the better choice. He pitched well against them last year. It’s a good assignment for him.”
Smoltz has been a revelation since signing with the Cardinals as a free agent three weeks ago. He’s 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts and has struck out 28 against one walk. But for one start it will be Wellemeyer, who has struggled this year but said he was encouraged following a bullpen session on Friday night.
“I feel like I’m actually behind the ball for the first time,” Wellemeyer said. “It actually has something on it. So that’s good. Unfortunately, it’s taken me until September to figure this out.”