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Cards eager to absorb Smoltz's smarts

Cards eager to absorb Smoltz's smarts

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LOS ANGELES -- Chris Carpenter has a Cy Young Award, a 20-win season and a World Series ring -- one of each, just like new teammate John Smoltz. But for all his accomplishments, Carpenter acknowledges that Smoltz is someone he looks up to. Carpenter is an All-Star; Smoltz is going to be a Hall of Famer.

"He's a guy that has done a ton for this game and a ton in his career," Carpenter said on Wednesday. "I've always enjoyed the way that he competes and watching him go out and pitch. I'm really looking forward to talking to him and sitting next to him and watching him work. His experiences, the things that he's accomplished, can only help all of us."

Those are things that people usually say about Carpenter. When the Cardinals' veteran ace talks that way about another hurler, you know the subject is someone special.

Carpenter, like his teammates, has no problem with looking past Smoltz's 8.32 ERA in eight games with the Red Sox this year. Instead, the Cardinals are looking at the nearly two decades of excellence that preceded Smoltz's 2009.

"I don't think anybody cares about what happened in those eight starts," starter Kyle Lohse said. "As long as he's healthy, I think he's going to help out. He knows how to pitch. It's a good spot for him to come in and fill whatever role he's going to fill."

Smoltz will begin as a starter for the Cardinals, taking the ball on Sunday in San Diego and then probably six days later at home against Washington. He may then slide to the Cardinals' bullpen, depending on how he fares and what the club needs.

"He fits what we're trying to do really, really well," manager Tony La Russa said. "We're fortunate that it worked out. The obvious thing is that when he pitches, he gets hitters out and gives us a chance to win. But he's got a well-deserved reputation for being a terrific teammate and a smart, outstanding competitor. So it's the kind of stuff you like to have added to your team. You can't have enough of that."

Whatever role he fills, the Redbirds are excited to have Smoltz as a teammate.

"It's going to be good to see him and pick his brain," Lohse said. "We've got one guy in 'Carp' who you can look at and try to take bits and pieces from. To get someone else like Smoltz in here, with his history and that resume, it's pretty impressive. Whatever he can do over here, I don't really know what the plans are, but just having him in there is going to be quite an experience."

Matthew Leach 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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