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Smoltz anxious about first start

WASHINGTON - After reflecting on the three weeks of sleepless nights that followed his shoulder surgery, John Smoltz sounded as if he might be tossing and turning one more time - this time out of sheer anxiousness over his first major league start for a team other than the Atlanta Braves.

Smoltz is scheduled to make his debut for the Boston Red Sox this evening, facing the Washington Nationals at the end of a long rehab that has sidelined him from the big leagues for more than a year.

'I wish I could probably sleep here,' Smoltz said Wednesday at Nationals Park, 'and make sure I'm here tomorrow.'

Smoltz's No. 29 jersey hung in a locker between the No. 49 of Tim Wakefield and the No. 34 of David Ortiz. Ortiz even helped shuffle the hoard of reporters into place for the start of Smoltz's remarks. The 42-year-old right-hander is the only pitcher to win 200 games and save 150, but he has never had a space to call his own in an American League clubhouse.

'This is not the old or the new or the done,' Smoltz said. 'It's just a new chapter in which when I have a baseball in my hand, I feel like I can make a pitch and do the things I have to do to take the sting out of the bat. And if that's the case, we'll progress and keep getting better every time out."