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Smoltz primed for first start

Smoltz primed for first start

ATLANTA -- John Smoltz's time away from the spotlight is complete. He's completed all of his scheduled simulated and Minor League games. Now it's time for the Braves right-hander to get ready for his first start of the season.

"It's time to look at the film," Smoltz said. "I'll have a couple more side sessions and then it's no turning back."

When Smoltz goes to look at the film, he'll be looking at some of his previous outings against the Mets, who will serve as his mound opposition at Turner Field on Sunday afternoon. But in the back of his mind, it will be tough to erase the fact that his mound counterpart during this season debut will be Mets ace Johan Santana.

Having won more postseason games (15) than any pitcher in Major League Baseball history, Smoltz has never shied away from a challenge. In fact during a similar type of early season setting in 2005, he matched a career-high 15 strikeouts and nearly outdueled Pedro Martinez.

But when Smoltz arrived at Spring Training this year, he said he wanted to focus on harnessing his efforts early in the season, with the hope that it would provide more late-season energy.

Thus, he understands the challenge he faces while attempting to keep his emotions in check when given the opportunity to oppose Santana in his season debut.

"That's part of the gig," Smoltz said. "It's not going to be easy."

Fortunately for Smoltz, it looks like he'll be going into the outing with a healthy right shoulder. The tightness he felt in between his neck and right shoulder two weeks ago wasn't present during his five-inning outing for Triple-A Richmond at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex on Sunday afternoon.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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