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08/17/09 11:06 PM ET

Cards interested in free-agent Smoltz

Veteran released by Red Sox after refusing assignment

LOS ANGELES -- The Cardinals maintain an interest in veteran right-hander John Smoltz, who was released by the Red Sox on Monday. Smoltz is a free agent and can sign with any Major League team. He had been designated for assignment by Boston, and declined a Minor League assignment.

"I know that he's one of the guys we've been looking into," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's healthy, and when he's healthy, he's a weapon."

Smoltz was starting for Boston, but it's more likely that he'd fit as a reliever for the Cardinals, who have some question marks from the right side in front of closer Ryan Franklin. Pitching coach Dave Duncan acknowledged that the likely Hall of Famer holds some interest, but that there's some question as to the night-to-night resiliency of his arm.

La Russa said he had not placed a call directly to Smoltz to lobby the veteran but didn't rule out a selling job if it was needed.

"I'll do whatever I'm asked to do," he said. "I think it's enough to say that we've got interest, and we have since the day he was designated. I know Mo's [general manager John Mozeliak] been looking."

As for another free-agent relief option, Duncan expressed little enthusiasm for Justin Speier, who was recently released by the Angels.

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