Injured Red Sox on the comeback trail

Injured Red Sox on the comeback trail

BOSTON -- Things are again moving in a positive direction for John Smoltz, as the right-hander will report back to extended spring training at the beginning of next week and throw a side session on Tuesday. If there are no setbacks, he might even throw a couple of innings in an extended spring game on May 15.

Smoltz, who underwent right shoulder surgery last June, was temporarily shut down last week when he felt just a click off while throwing to hitters in Florida.

Just for peace of mind, he went to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., to make sure the shoulder was recovering properly. Smoltz had never undergone shoulder surgery before.

"I needed that part," Smoltz told the Daily Item of Lynn, Mass. "Everyone needs that part. This is new for me. I could say that if I had elbow surgery tomorrow that I would know how to come back from that a lot greater than I would a shoulder surgery. But the ability to come back is not a foreign process. It's just something that takes a lot of mind over matter. There's no easy process, and there's no formula that's perfect for everybody."

Smoltz is now comfortable in knowing that the sluggishness he felt was completely normal.

"Maybe there, for a little bit, it was my body's way of saying slow down a little bit," he said. "It almost was supposed to happen earlier, based on protocol. It just happened a little later."

As for the other Boston player on the rehab trail, first baseman/outfielder Mark Kotsay is trying to stay patient as he recovers from a right calf injury sustained last Sunday at Triple-A Pawtucket. Kotsay was there testing his surgically repaired back, only to tweak the calf running the bases.

"It's been, what, four days? It's coming," said Kotsay. "I don't have a timetable right now. It's disappointing any time you have setbacks, and it's not anything to do with the back. The back made its timetable [of May 1], but the calf just happened to become a problem, and we're dealing with it. That's part of coming back from an injury -- you don't really know how your body is going to respond. Here we are, you know, in the situation we're in, and fortunately it's a short-term thing and not another long-term thing."

Kotsay is keeping it in perspective, feeling that whenever he returns, there will be plenty of season left.

"This is just one of those things that gets in the way, and you can't let it completely get you down," he said. "You have to look at the big picture. Even if it's June 1, it's still four months of a season to be had. It's a long year."

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