The future Hall of Fame right-hander, who turns 40 next month, will return for his 20th season in 2008, inking a deal with the Atlanta Braves that guarantees him about $14 million.
Phillies fans will be seeing a lot more of Smoltz, possibly through the year 2010. Smoltz's new contract includes a $12 million option for 2009 that becomes guaranteed if Smoltz pitches 200 innings the previous season, and there is a club option or 2010, at a cost of $13 million if he pitches 200 innings in '09 or $12 million if he falls short of that total. In all, the deal could earn Smoltz as much as $39 million.
Braves find lead-off answer in Johnson
Continuing with the Braves, who are 13-8 on the season and trail New York by a half game, new lead-off man Kelly Johnson is hitting .306 with a .438 on-base percentage and ranks among the National League leaders with 19 runs and 17 walks. The Braves went through last season with Marcus Giles in the lead-off position, a failed experiment that certainly contributed to their worst season in 14 years. [Link]
Nationals 4, Phillies 2
The overriding mood following the Phillies' first loss in six games is to turn the page and bring on the Marlins. Cole Hamels (2-1) suffered a mini-meltdown following his 15-strikeout masterpiece. Yesterday was his shortest outing this season. The left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. "Coming off a phenomenal performance, it gives you confidence," Hamels told the AP. "I was feeling good for five innings then I just got out of my comfort zone."
Meanwhile, Shawn Hill (2-2) had the Phillies' number. Hill gave up two runs and four hits, striking out three in eight-plus innings. The right-hander hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his five starts this season and continues to pitch the Phillies well.
After the game, Comcast analyst John Marzano reminded fans to regard the season on a series-by-series basis, instead of game-by-game like in football. It's a worthwhile reminder. Overall, the Phils had a positive series against the Nats and have managed to rebound a little from their rough start.
This morning, Bob Ford presented a column detailing Hamels' ongoing problems in day games. [Link]
Weird Beard injured
Former Phillie Rick White suffered a strained oblique while warming up in the bullpen Wednesday and has landed on the 15-day DL. White had been Houston's most reliable middle reliever so far, posting a 1.54 ERA in eight appearances, spanning 11 2-3 innings.