FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – Right-hander John Smoltz pitched from the mound in a Red Sox uniform for the first time Wednesday, testing his surgically repaired shoulder by throwing 40 pitches in the bullpen.

Smoltz, who turns 42 in May, threw to a crouching catcher for just the second time since having surgery to repair a torn Labrum on June 10. His first mound session was in December for Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. Smoltz then signed with Boston in January, ending his 20-year tenure with the Braves. He has played catch off a mound this spring, throwing to a standing catcher.

“This was the first time I’m throwing down to a catcher,” he said. “(It’s) totally different than throwing to a catcher standing up. I didn’t think it was going to be that big a deal and it was. It’s just getting used to it all over again. Now I’m getting used to all the components, the mound, the height of the mound, all those things that you take for granted.

“I can’t explain the awkwardness. I didn’t think it would be that awkward,” Smoltz said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, but it was awkward. But, I’ve not gone that long without being on the mound.”

Smoltz, who threw 30 pitches from a windup and 10 from the stretch position, is scheduled to for another bullpen session Saturday with approximately the same number of pitches, but he should add his offspeed pitches to the workout.

“It was more a matter of repeating his delivery, controlling his intensity level, which I think he did very well,” Farrell said. “I think he felt good coming away from it, and he’s dealing with the subtleties in the adjustments in his deliveries, but today was the first day he’s thrown a bullpen of this structure since early December. So there’s going to be some familiarity to regain with the mound, and the intricacies of his delivery.”

With Dusty Brown catching, teammates Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and George Kottaras watched Smoltz’s.

On what would have been Smoltz’s 12th pitch, the ball slipped from his grip during his windup and fell behind him, initially giving Farrell reason for pause – until he saw the look on Smoltz’s face.

“I probably have that happen once a side session,” Smoltz said. “I’m trying to not grip the ball, trying to grip it as light as I can, and once in a while that happens. It’s never happened in a game. Thankfully Josh said I made a nice adjustment on the next pitch, probably the best adjustment he’s ever seen anyone make.”

Smoltz said he was throwing with about 70 percent of his normal intensity.

“Not that that bothers me,” he said. “I intentionally did it. And even if I wanted to turn it up, I had already set my brain in motion that I wasn’t going to go after it. That’s for time to come.”

He had to remind himself, he said, that his purpose in this session was to throw, and not to think like a pitcher.

“All I cared about was getting the ball to the catcher,” he said. “But in my mind I was trying to hit the outside corner, the inside corner. That’s for times to come, I got to remind myself.”

For the next two weeks, Farrell said, Smoltz will throw bullpen sessions every third day, leading into throwing batting practice and simulated games before a potential rehab assignment.

“I think every day he has the ball in his hand there’s excitement,” Farrell said. “But, I think today signifies in his mind the light at the end of the tunnel’s getting brighter.”


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