Welcome to Glavine’s field of dreams: Lawrenceville

Here's Tom Glavine struggling as a Brave -- in Gwinnett, not Fulton County (Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com).

Tom Glavine struggled as a Brave -- in Gwinnett, not Fulton (Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com)

A white Range Rover rolled into the parking lot at 4:39 p.m. and out jumped three young boys looking for new hats, a 43-year-old pitcher looking for a renewable lease and Dr. Joe Chandler, trying to keep watch over all of them.

“In case my arm falls off, he’s here to put it back on,” Tom Glavine said Saturday.

Went to see John Smoltz pitch in Augusta the other day. Figured I might as well jump from Single-A to Triple-A Saturday to see Glavine try to defy odds in Lawrenceville. This should do it for the tour of impending Hall of Famers in the minors. Greg Maddux seems content in Las Vegas, playing golf and poker, which doesn’t require traveling with orthopedic surgeons.

Nine months after surgery for a torn flexor tendon and the usual late-career, pitcher’s HMO buffet – labrum, rotator cuff, bursa sac – Glavine was hoping Saturday all this was worth it. Didn’t look like it. After extensive rehab and a setback or two, he was owned by the Toledo Mud Hens, which is not the way a legend wants to end it. He threw two shutout innings, then was tagged for an RBI triple and a two-run homer in the third, before exiting for an ice bag.

There was some good news. Glavine had strength, just little control. On a lighter note, Clint Sammons’ three-run homer in the fourth got him off the hook. “That’s good — I won’t get my first minor-league loss in 20-something years,” he said.

He’s trying to keep it real. He’s encouraged but that’s it. He admitted before the game, “There’s some days it doesn’t feel great and I’m like, ‘You know, what are you doing this for?’ But I just think if I didn’t find out if I could do this, I’d be kicking myself. … Having had the surgery I had and putting in all the work, I just can’t find it in my heart to say no. I’ve got to find out.”

Some guys try to hang on too long. A boxer in Fayette County comes to mind. Fortunately, Glavine isn’t so deluded.

It’s easy to understand his desire to keep going. He left the Braves for New York in 2003 and never completely felt comfortable. He wanted to come back two seasons ago, but a deal never materialized. When he and the Braves finally got together last year, things didn’t go as well as hoped. He looked good for a month but soon faded, went on the disabled list three times and eventually shut it down in August.

This isn’t the way he wants to go out. Here’s hoping he doesn’t.

For whatever ill-feelings some fans incredibly still harbor against him for signing with the Mets or strike-time rhetoric, Glavine remains one of the classiest and most dedicated professional athletes any of us will ever see. In short: Get over it, people.

“I just want him to come back, pitch well and have a good time,” said Chandler, the Braves’ medical adviser and former longtime orthopedic surgeon, who rode to the game with him. “But regardless of what happens, I think he’s at peace with it.”

Eight-plus months of rehab will wear anybody down. Glavine has an acceptance level about retirement that wasn’t evident before.

“The way things have gone, I’m a little more open-minded to things happening,” he said. “I’m just in the mind-set of: I’m going to push it and try to go. If everything goes well and I can come back, great. If not, at least I tried.”

The three boys (two sons and a friend) had the run of the Gwinnett clubhouse. Chandler even threw them batting practice. (His post-game report: “My arm hurts.”)

Glavine hopes to be back pitching for the Braves in early June. Who knows? Maybe he could even go and face Smoltz in Boston.

“I thought about that,” he said early Saturday. “But I’ve just got to get through this first.”

No assumptions any more.

45 comments Add your comment

Jeff Schultz

May 23rd, 2009
8:10 pm

Just to let you know — game started after 51 minute delay. Glavine threw 12 pitches in first (3 balls, 9 strikes) and allowed one single — that’s from unofficial scorekeeper Chris Vivlamore, who wants to get his name in the paper.

Jeff Schultz

May 23rd, 2009
8:43 pm

Glav just got shelled by Toledo in his third (and presumably final) inning: walk-triple-home run-single. Leaves trailing 3-0. Totals: 3 runs, 5 hits, 1 HR, 56 pitches. … I’ll update column after he speaks.

DHD

May 23rd, 2009
8:45 pm

He should retire. He is blocking Hanson.

dave

May 23rd, 2009
8:46 pm

Watched the Braves since the 50’s in Milwaukee . . . I promise I’m over it, good luck Tom.

John Radney

May 23rd, 2009
8:56 pm

Same old washed up Glav. Remember the all-star games a few years back. The ump, made him throw strikes in the game and he was shelled because he had to throw striks. Braves wasted a million on the bum.

Ted Striker

May 23rd, 2009
9:00 pm

When I started reading this article, I had the mistaken impression the headline said something about “Glanville’s field of dreams.” Then I saw a photo of Glavine. I’ll admit it. I have a drinky drink every so often. Keep up the good work, Jeff, and if Jerry Glanville shows up in Lawrenceville — I called it first.

130on2

May 23rd, 2009
9:27 pm

Give him time. Sometimes it takes 3-5 outings to get things going again.

Mitch

May 23rd, 2009
9:56 pm

I’m sorry that Tommy’s outing didn’t go as well as expected. To be fair, this was his first outing against live opposing hitters, in.. a year? He might have been rusty.

I think we need to give him a few outings before we can judge what’s going to be. Maybe as time goes on, his strength will come back, and he can at least pitch decently.

I’m not going to give up hope after only one outing. He may do much better next time.

Mitch

HawkDawg

May 23rd, 2009
9:59 pm

Put a fork in him. He’ s DONE! He was washed up after the playoff series with San Francisco in 2002. Enough of the feel good stories. This is not the same pitcher from 1992-2000. Time to move on.

By the way Jeff, you have a little something on the end of your nose.

DHD

May 23rd, 2009
10:06 pm

The question is…who will we win with? Glavine or Hanson? If Glavine want to be the long man out of the pen, I can live with that. He would be good to have in the clubhouse with the young guys. BUT…we are only 1.5 games out of first. It’s not time for the Old Timers game.

Growler

May 23rd, 2009
10:08 pm

I was at the game too, Jeff. (we left as the rain started kicking up again but after Glavine exited). He did not look good at all. What you failed to mention is a number of his outs were hard-hit balls (including 2 excellent catches in outfield that saved extra-base hits), and almost ALL of the outs were fly balls. Not a good sign for a ground-ball pitcher. His fastest pitch didn’t measure much out of the low 80’s. I know this is just the 1st rehab start, but, sadly, not encouraging.

LAC

May 23rd, 2009
10:14 pm

The good times are a distant memory, baseball is OVER, Go be Thrashers GM and work wonders there !

Chop

May 23rd, 2009
10:14 pm

Glavine is finished just like Chop Chick. I haven’t seen a Chop Chick post since early April. Is Jeff Chop Chick? I want to take over the blog but the AJC folks won’t call me back. Blog with Chop Suey. Local boy from Canton . . . look it up. Not much has to change. Just change Chick to Suey. Blog with Chop Suey. I also hope to get a job as a writer. The AJC can just use some color to hide the fact I don’t know how to write for the newspaper. There’s lots of color in the new AJC. And Jeff, you are now the senior guy at the paper, right? Don’t look over your shoulder. Sleep with one eye open. Chop Suey is gunning for your job if I don’t get to replace Chop Chick. You might want to put in a good word for me with the editors. Chop Suey is my name, from Canton.

steven thomas

May 23rd, 2009
10:19 pm

Has anyone mentioned replacing Roger McDowell with Tom Glavine ? Just wondering.

Jim

May 23rd, 2009
10:23 pm

Go home to NY Glavine.

Chop

May 23rd, 2009
10:29 pm

Glavine says he pays a lot of attention to how the ball comes out of his hand . . . maybe he should pay more attention to how the ball goes out of the park when it comes out of his hand. I am serious about writing for this paper. It’s a little narrow paper now and I know how to write little narrow articles. Throw a little color to it and we may be going for a Pulitzer. There have been precious few of those on Marietta Street for awhile. Surely with a Pulitzer they will let me have the Chop Chick blog for my very own. If you will blog with Chop Suey please let Jeff know so he can put in a good word for me.

Paul Lentz

May 23rd, 2009
10:55 pm

Medlen may have been wild on Thursday, however I liked his stuff. His pitches had movement. It was just one of those nights where his location was poor. I hope Bobby Cox gives him another chance on Tuesday. I live in San Francisco (I subscribe to the MLB package on Direct TV so I can watch all the Braves games). I plan on going to all 3 games next week. I would love to see him pitch on Tuesday night.

The thing I like about Medlen is that he pitched with confidence. Jojo Reyes has decent stuff, however you can tell that he pitches scared sometimes. I didnt see that with Medlen. He just couldnt located his pitches. But his stuff is good.

Jeff Schultz

May 23rd, 2009
11:00 pm

DHD: Plenty of time for Hanson. Glavine deserves a shot first. If he can’t come back, we’ll know soon enough.

TED: not even sure I want to know what Glanville’s field of dreams is – and I have no plans to visit that Netherworld.

130ON2: Agreed.

HAWKDAWG: In a second, I’m going to have a little something on the end of my foot.

GROWLER: Hard-hit balls –that’s where location comes in. Too many pitches down the middle of the plate. Can’t do that when you’re throwing 80-85. If he can’t hit corners, he’s done.

CHOP: I’m not quite senior – but probably closer than I ever anticipated.

STEVEN THOMAS: I think Tom would be a good pitching coach, but not sure if he wants to do that. He might be of the just-spend-time-with-kids mindset and get off the road. He can always come back to it in a few years and do that.

Beauregard

May 23rd, 2009
11:02 pm

He is doing the EXACT same thing as Holyfield – trying to hang around way beyond his productive life. Smoltz can still get hitters out; Glavine hasn’t been anything more than an average pitcher since he bolted for the Mets.

Paul Lentz

May 23rd, 2009
11:09 pm

Also, I feel that Bobby Cox should have left Moylan in to pitch to Vernon Wells to lead off the 9th. Then bring in Gonzalez. Gonzalez had just pitched last night. I feel bringing in Gonzalez after letting Moylan face the first batter would have been a better move.

I’d like to give some props to Soriano. He came out throwing some nasty stuff tonight. If he can continue pitching like that, I would hope that Bobby considers letting him close sometimes, especially if Gonzalez had to close the previous night.

I’m concerned with Franceour’s ability to drive the ball. When he goes to right field, he basically turns into a single’s hitter. When he tries to pull the ball, its either a grounder to short or a strikeout. Franceour has two years left after this before he is eligible for free agency. Plus I’m sure that he’ll get substantial raises during the next 2 arbitration years. I can easily see him getting between 5-6 million for next year, and perhaps 7-8 million for year 6. To be honest, his production does not justify the 3.4 million that he is earning this year. If his production doesnt improve the rest of the year, I hope the Braves consider trading him. He makes too many unproductive outs in RBI situations. I would love to see Franceour do well. I just dont want to see the Braves foolishly give him a contract that I feel he doesnt deserve. The Braves need a right fielder who can put some punch in the offense. For Franceour to justify the money he thinks he is worth, the Braves need home runs and RBI’s in important situations, not singles and RBI’s when the Braves are either blowing out a team or are far behind.

Paul Lentz

May 23rd, 2009
11:19 pm

I also feel that if Glavine doesnt show that he is capable of throwing a couple of good games in Triple A, I feel that the Braves may be better off not adding him to the roster at all. It could potentially be a waste of a few million dollars…money that could go towards adding a bat via trade before the trade deadline. I’m more than ok with giving Medlen a few starts to nail down that 5th starter job. I feel that with Lowe, Vazquez, and Jurrgens consistently going deep into games, and with the possibilty of Kawakami developing into that type of pitcher….the Braves can afford to give Medlen a chance to prove himself. And if he doesnt, I’d rather bring up Hanson than paying Glavine 3 or 4 million for half a season. If Glavine does come up, I cant imagine him being more than a 5 or 6 inning pitcher, at best. I’d rather give those innings to someone like Medlen or Hanson, and having the bullpen ready to go early on nights they arent going well.

Jeff Schultz

May 23rd, 2009
11:26 pm

Beauregard: Glavine’s not punch drunk. I’m pretty confident that if he determines in the next few weeks that he can’t be a legit ML pitcher, he’ll retire. He won’t pull a Holyfield.

Reid Adair

May 23rd, 2009
11:34 pm

Jeff, I think you’re right. If Glavine feels like he’s not going to be able to pitch at a level he wants, he won’t force things. I hate to say it, but this may be all. Hopefully not.

Stat Man

May 23rd, 2009
11:42 pm

I understand that Smoltz & Vick went to the rest room today (separately) – can’t believe the AJC didn’t have full coverage of those noteworthy events.

hollywould

May 24th, 2009
12:32 am

Jeff, That was a good one to Hawkdog. He won’t get it.

Scottbravesfan

May 24th, 2009
1:29 am

I hope Glavine can come back but I don’t want to see him come back if he’s not going to be effective. No need to tarnish his legacy. Once June comes around they are going to call up Tommy Hanson if they have a spot in the rotation. They are just waiting till June so they don’t waste one of his years of paying him the minimum.

[...] Jeff Schultz | ajc.com – [...]

AugustaBravesFan

May 24th, 2009
2:07 am

I couldn’t stand Tom Glavine after his pro-union nonsense during the strike, but the guy has done more than enough for the Braves and the city of Atlanta for us to give him the benefit of the doubt. He will know when it is time to call it quits. Until then, let’s hope he can turn back the clock many more times.

Chop

May 24th, 2009
7:24 am

Jeff, do you feel that a manager who picks his nose can be a good evaluator of pitching talent? Bobby is a grandfatherly type to some of the players. I wonder how many of their grandfathers are nose pickers?

This is the type of cutting-edge commentary I can bring to the Chop Suey blog. I hope you will put in a good word for me with Julia. I hope to be a regular on your blog until I get my own Chop Suey blog. Being a Canton boy should propel me to the top. Canton has a history of more than 2800 years and not many know that. I can bring a lot of local color to my blog.

Soriano was pretty nasty last night. Didn’t he lose the closer’s job due to injury? I didn’t think Bobby let guys lose a job to injury. The Braves have lots of good pitching in the pen. Bobby must figure how to use them. Maybe he will pick something out that will give him a clue. Parr was about par for the last few seasons of bullpen mis-management, lost effectiveness, sore arms and surgeries. We won’t have Parr to kick around anymore, though. Jeff Bennett and Buddy Carlyle remind me a little of Paronto and Ted Pickleseimer from the other league. Ted was prone to give up the slam, too. Got him in a pickle.

I will go practice for my new Chop Suey blog. Remember to talk with Julia.

Your Friend, Chop Suey

Kevin

May 24th, 2009
7:54 am

Say bye glavine if u can’t get triple A people out why major’s….if u count atlanta as a major league team….glavine n cox watch as smoltz shuts u out twice here at turnerfield n fenway park…where u have a standin room only crowd at the Ted see that…I hope wren is enjoyin his lies n studd and maybe cox will pick his nose while beatin his wife again.

HawkDawg

May 24th, 2009
8:20 am

Kevin, it is time for you to go back to your Dekalb county school and learn how to write….or at least communicate.

DHD

May 24th, 2009
8:29 am

My point is that we are 1.5 games back. We have a shot to win the division. I just can’t see Glavine as a starter for this team. We can’t afford it. How long has it been since he was a viable starer in the NL? Let him do some long relief and then retire his number. Bobby’s loyalty scares me here.

Phildo

May 24th, 2009
9:23 am

Bringing back Glavine was a waste of money and even worse, putting him on the mound could result in a couple more otherwise avoidable loses that could prove critical down the road. He’s typical of most ageing pros, loves the glory and doesn’t know when to quit, but you certainly can’t blame him when there are suckers like the Braves willing to pay him the big bucks.

Chop

May 24th, 2009
9:35 am

It is a well known fact that the Braves have too much pitching. I read that in the AJC before the season began. In Canton we have a saying, “If heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.” I suggest Glavine become a union spokesperson. He has prior experience there, too. As a union spokesperson he can look for the union label in team uniforms and still be involved with the team. Of course, he will find no union label in the uniforms. That should begin a crusade. I have a crusade of my own. I want to have a Chop Suey blog on here. Chop Suey could easily replace Chop Chick. It will give Jeff more time to devote to his own blog. I also may go Twitter. I haven’t decided yet. Maybe Tom Glavine will go Twitter, too. His pitching skills twittered away some time ago. Jeff, put in a good word for me when you see Julia. I am ready to go. I can work from my place here in Canton. The Chop Suey blog could save the AJC. That, and color.

Shamus Thacker

May 24th, 2009
9:53 am

Just enough time for quick scan of posts.

Do I surmise correctly that Tom, Evander, and Jerry Glanville are concerned about something on the end of Schultz’s nose, or foot?

I’ll be back later for a more thorough read…

Adios!

HawkDawg

May 24th, 2009
10:37 am

I was listening to a Braves radio broadcast two weeks ago of the day game with the Mets and the announcers spent two whole innings discussing Glavine’s comeback. As if anyone, other than “brown nose” Schultz and Bobby Cox, cares.

I will be glad when he comes back and gets rocked so that will finally be able to put this to rest. He is our version of Brett Favre. Just go AWAY!

WestPalmDawg

May 24th, 2009
1:37 pm

Glav, you’ll have an Atlanta hat on when you enter the HOF, but seriously, it’s time the Tommy Halladay Hanson experience to begin in Atlanta.

Paul Lentz

May 24th, 2009
2:44 pm

Franceour just proved my point once again. Bottom of the 4th inning, runners on 2nd and 3rd, one out….pulls the first pitch to the third baseman, who is in. Unproductive out, pulls to left side of infield. If Franceour doesnt show noticeable improvement the rest of the year, I say trade him. I’m not here to bash Franceour. However as a Braves fan, I would rather see the Braves invest significant money into players who are actually worth the money. Franceour’s power numbers dropped from 29 in 2006. 19 in 2007, and 11 in 2008. I just dont feel that a player hitting .250 with 10 homers and 70 RBI’s in 600 plate appearances is worth the 5-6 million that Franceour will surely command in arbitration next year. If the Braves cant trade him, I would be more than ok with the Braves outright cutting Franceour before they have to offer him arbitration.

HawkDawg

May 24th, 2009
2:51 pm

Franceour has reached his peak. Perhaps we could trade him for a couple of prospects to help replenish the farm system. He reminds me of Andrew, but without the power.

Shamus Thacker

May 24th, 2009
8:39 pm

Nobody in his right mind would trade one prospect for a couple of Franceours…

Robards

May 24th, 2009
10:34 pm

I’m not sure Glavine has the stuff anymore. He needs to be able to top out in the mid 80s (and get a couple of inches off the plate) in order for his off-speed pitches to work. Last year, he was topping out at 82 or 83, though I know he was hurt. Glavine knows how to battle and is sometimes effective at limiting damage (unlike Jo Jo, for example), so maybe he has a shot at being a guy who can go 5 or 6 innings and give up a couple of runs.

Elmo

May 25th, 2009
10:31 am

He needs to retire now. The defining attribute of a Man is knowing when to give up something he holds dear.

teresa

May 27th, 2009
8:18 pm

I think you all should give glavine a break and a chance to work thru
this and decide for himself whether or not he needs to come back. he
is a great pitcher and deserves a little more respect from true atlanta
fans.

Phil

May 28th, 2009
3:23 pm

Okay…Glavine made a REHAB start. Chances are he isn’t even going at 100% or even throwing all of his pitches. Glavine hasn’t even had a spring training for crying out loud. I remember plenty of spring games seeing Maddux and Smoltz getting lit up. But when the regular season comes, they’re ready to go. Whether or not Glavine gives up a few runs or what his ERA at the end of the day really isn’t a concern. The main concern is how he is feeling after that start and how he bounces back between turns in the rotation. Wait till Tom has a few starts in Atlanta before you go losing all faith based on a rehab start in Triple-A.

Phil

May 28th, 2009
3:28 pm

Glavine is your Favre?

When has Glavine ever said, “I am going to retire”? That alone is the big difference between the two. Glavine has never wavered in his desire to play. He goes on the DL for the first time FIRST time last year. Give the guy a break. He is getting in shape to pitch. He hasn’t had a spring training. Reserve your judgment till he makes his season debut with the Braves…not Gwinnett.