Smoltz visits Braves camp, all but retired

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA – Wearing a golf shirt with a Michigan State logo and a press pass dangling from his belt loop, John Smoltz sure looked retired Wednesday.

Smoltz visited Braves camp in what he said was a research mission for his new role as TV broadcaster. He’s not quite retired, but it’s getting easier to talk about the “R” word.

When asked if he was retired, Smoltz said. “Not officially, but close.”

Closer, even in the last week, Smoltz said. It’s been about that long since Turner Sports and the MLB Network announced Smoltz would be joining their broadcasts this season. That’s helped spur his decision-making along.

“I’m not really ready to say I’m 100 percent committed, done,” said Smoltz, now 42. “As long as there’s a small crack, it’s a small crack. We’ll see what happens.”

That said, Smoltz said he stopped throwing off a mound a month ago. The only work he has planned for his surgically-repaired right shoulder is throwing some batting practice, perhaps, at King’s Ridge Christian School, an Alpharetta school he helped found.

“I’ve been praying for that answer: take the desire (to pitch) or give me the desire,” said Smoltz, who’s spent the offseason somewhere between the two.

Smoltz said St. Louis never came through with an offer he was hoping for after his seven-game comeback with the Cardinals last year, as well as a postseason appearance. He garnered some interest from the Phillies, Smoltz said, but a formal offer never materialized. One that did was from Washington Nationals’ president Stan Kasten, the former Braves president, who wanted Smoltz to start for the Nats and eventually coach.

“I was very honored by the opportunity he was presenting,” Smoltz said. “It just wasn’t the right thing for me.”

Smoltz said Wednesday he no longer has anything to prove on the mound. He’s got Hall-of-Fame credentials, as the first pitcher ever to record 200 wins (213) and 150 saves (154). He’s second all-time to the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte with 15 postseason wins.

He already proved he could come back from the fifth surgery of his career, this time on his shoulder in 2008. After an unsuccessful stint with the Red Sox last summer (8.32 ERA in eight games), he went 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in the Cardinals’ bullpen.

“I still believed I could come back,” Smoltz said. “Not only could I come back, I could be really good. Well the ‘really good’ part was probably not to the degree I thought, but I did come back. And I had a chance to pitch in the playoffs again.”

Smoltz was ready, though, when the TV opportunity came.

He’ll serve as an analyst on 25 broadcasts for Peachtree TV, three national games for TBS, 10-15 games on the MLB Network and 10-15 pre-game broadcasts for the MLB Network.

“As I look back, it’s had a perfect path,” Smoltz said. “I’m doing exactly what I want to do with who I want to do it with.”

In between broadcasts, Smoltz said he can see himself coaching some basketball and maybe playing in a qualifier for the U.S. Open. He’s no longer waiting for the phone to ring.

“Could I get ready in two months or a month? Yeah, absolutely,” Smoltz said. “But that’s not where I’m at.”

34 comments Add your comment

Josh Townsend

March 24th, 2010
5:45 pm

Much love Smoltzie. It’s good to see you back. Best of luck and welcome home :)

Traver

March 24th, 2010
5:47 pm

Traver

March 24th, 2010
5:48 pm

Shoot! Second. Just want Smoltz around the club house. Always a Brave

Jerald Holcombe

March 24th, 2010
5:58 pm

I met Smoltz last week at the Sports Authority in Alpharetta and he was very nice to stand there and talk with me for a few minutes, because you know people bother him all the time wherever he goes. Always was my second favorite pitcher in Braves history, with Maddox being first. Nobody can ever say that he didn’t give everything he had to the sport. He endured a lot of injuries and still will make the Hall of Fame. Good luck John on broadcasting.

bruce

March 24th, 2010
6:57 pm

I still hope he pitches somewhere in the majors this season.

thunderbull56

March 24th, 2010
7:54 pm

Stay loose John.After Coxie wears out Moylan and co.Player/coach would really be cool on your HOF resume.Forget about it, Coxie ain’t, Yeah I said it momma, ain’t about no thunder stealin’ ex super star. Best of luck John, the is not a pitcher alive that I would run out there with the WS on the line.

Branch Rickey

March 24th, 2010
9:09 pm

The way Bobby Cox torches bullpens, look for Smoltzie in a Braves uniform no later than July. Mark it down !

Braves82

March 24th, 2010
9:34 pm

What a bunch of morons!

MontyP

March 24th, 2010
9:56 pm

Bring him back for the first Friday night game at Turner Field. Let him pitch the first inning and walk of the mound into retirement. That is the way it should end for one of the greatest all time Braves players and one of my favorites.

hawks

March 25th, 2010
1:28 am

Are u kidding me Smoltzie can still pitch out of the bullpen hands down!! Hes better than half of the guys down their,give him a shot ibet he can prove them wrong! Whats it going to hurt another 3rd or 4th place finish get real Braves82!

Steve

March 25th, 2010
6:31 am

God, Family and Golf. Enjoy the life you’ve earned.
Thanks for all the years Mr. Smoltz!

Smitty

March 25th, 2010
8:56 am

Holy cow, does anybody realize we that if he retires right now, we will have a Smoltz/Glavine/Maddux reunion at Cooperstown?

Chipper's Bunions

March 25th, 2010
9:26 am

It looks like Smoltz finally came to terms with the fact that he WASN’T needed last year and thats the reason Wren did fall all over himself offering him a contract. Given the situation I think the Braves were VERY fair and circumstances proved them to be correct in their assumption not to count on Smoltz.
That being said I know if I worked my a$$ off coming back from surgery I wouldn’t want to just hang up the cleats. I wish Smoltz had retired a Brave but I understand why he walked away. Good Luck John…actually you don’t need luck, you’re rich and talented….I’ll just say Thanks!

Chipper's Bunions

March 25th, 2010
9:28 am

BTW Smitty, Maddux retired last year and will go into the HOF sans Glavine/Smoltz. I kind of wish the three had retired at the same time so it upped the chance that MadDog went in as a Brave but I think he is going in as a Cub….Rats.

James

March 25th, 2010
9:45 am

Smoltz joining the broadcast booth…how bout that. The Braves need someone with experience up there, and to be from the Dynasty of the 90’s makes it awesome! He could give us tales from those years with Glavine, Maddux, Avery, Lemke, Justice, Gant and all the greats. What about pitching coach for the braves with Pendelton taking over the reigns after Bobby, brilliant you say? He should sign a one day contract with the Braves and retire as a Brave who agrees?

James

March 25th, 2010
9:46 am

Maddux came into the league as a Cub, went out as a Cub they deserve him.

James

March 25th, 2010
9:49 am

Thats very possible if they have a run at the playoffs picking him up this year, to come in strong as the closer he is and should stay ’till his arm falls off lol.

Smitty

March 25th, 2010
10:03 am

1) I thought Maddux & Glavine retired in the same timeframe? And can’t retirment be “retroactive?” In other words, if Smoltz doesn’t play in a game this year, would that be the same as him retiring last year?
2) Wow. Maddux in the Hall as a Cub?! He had more post season appearances and Cy Youngs with the Braves. Doesn’t the Hall decide team affiliation rather than the inductee? Someone help me out here.

ugaaccountant

March 25th, 2010
11:02 am

Smitty – Maddux and Glavine both retired after 2008. Spring training & minor leagues don’t count. But Smoltz did pitch in the majors in 2009.

Smitty

March 25th, 2010
11:14 am

Thanks, ugaaccountant. I understand now.

Doug

March 25th, 2010
11:21 am

It is good for the Braves young pitchers to be able to communicate with Smoltz and Glavine. They both need to be part of this organization still after all they helped mold the now Atlanta Braves history.

Being older than most posters I will say if you have the time go back and learn a little about the Braves staff of the late 50’s and early 60’s. With the likes of Warren Spahn,Lou Berdette,Bob Buhl as starters pitchers like Jaun Pizzaro & Joey Jay became expendable and Pizzaro & Jay became stars with the White Sox and Reds respectively.

Tallahassee Fan

March 25th, 2010
11:59 am

Since 2001, the Hall of Fame picks the team for the player, “based on where that player makes his most indelible mark.” Maddox goes in as a Brave–end of story.

ChippersLoveChild

March 25th, 2010
12:27 pm

Who is this Maddox all of you speak of? Is he related to Greg Maddux? This is a Braves blog, right? ;)

Tallahassee Fan

March 25th, 2010
11:20 pm

Sorry about the spelling of Mad Dog’s last name–We used to have a mayor named Maddox, could never remember to spell his name right, either…

KPH

March 26th, 2010
8:17 am

It was Lester Maddox and he was Governor not Mayor. I agree Soltz should at least pitch one inning and retire in a Braves uniform to a sold out Turner Field. I would be there for sure.

Lefty

March 26th, 2010
8:17 am

Another thing to keep in mind about a HOF reunion is that the voters won’t necessarily vote for a deserving player on their first year of eligibility just to separate 1st ballot inductees into an elite group. Smoltz is very deserving the HOF, but I don’t see him going in on the 1st ballot. Based on the voting histories, even Glavine isn’t a 1st ballot lock, although there appears to be less gamesmanship in that area lately. Maddux is a 1st ballot lock and may even challenge Tom Seaver for the highest percentage vote in history.

KPH

March 26th, 2010
8:19 am

That would be sMoltz. Damn I am sleepy! :-)

bravesgrl4life

March 26th, 2010
9:37 am

Smoltz isn’t going to be exclusively a Braves announcer, right? I see him occasionally at lunch where he meets with a group of guys for a Bible study, which includes Jeff Foxworth as well as Smoltzie. Almost no one ever bothers them there – they are just local guys like the rest of us.

bravesfanbob

March 26th, 2010
12:36 pm

Smoltz WILL be a first ballot HOFer because of these 2 reasons. He is so deserving because of his statistics alone, and he was SO good with the media, and they love him, and regardless of what we think, that goes a long way to getting votes. He will be on 83% of the ballots. Glavine will be hurt because he’s on the same ballot as Maddux and Frank Thomas. I believe he’ll get there on the first ballot, but it may be that since the voters only get 3 votes, he may lose a few going against Thomas. Anyone who doesn’t vote for Maddux doesn’t deserve to ever vote again. Best pitcher I’ve ever seen. Many threw harder, many threw nastier curveballs and sliders. No one pitched better!

old timer

March 28th, 2010
7:49 am

So many memories with Smoltz. The last really great one was when he outpitched Clemens in the playoffs in a game in which his rookie personal catcher hit a bomb into the right field bleachers, right at my wife and I, to lock the game up. Hall of Famer for sure. Maybe the catcher will be someday, too.

I believe Maddux will go in as a Brave. Three of his Cy Youngs were with the Braves, plus his one World Championship and all those pennants and division titles (which actually do count for somethng.)

old timer

March 28th, 2010
7:51 am

Oh, and the Braves should sign Smotlz, bring him out for an ovation on opening day, and let him retire a Brave.

President of the Heyward Fan Club

March 28th, 2010
8:14 am

Hang ‘em up, Smoltzie…you’ve got nothing else to prove. Great career, and my favorite Brave pitcher of all time!!!

DeafGary

March 28th, 2010
9:37 am

Smoltz, you’ve left us with a lifetime of memories to dwell on.
Though we wish you could have lasted forever (in a Braves uniform, that is)
you’re not Superman.
Enjoy your retirement.

Rick Marcin

March 28th, 2010
11:15 am

If Braves are in the hunt in August and their BP is imploding you can bet Smoltz will be chomping at the bit and Cox will be extending that carrot.

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