Smoltz: Facing Braves might’ve been too much

John Smoltz had his eyes on facing the Braves, but now that's up in air (AP photo).

John Smoltz will be back in Pawtucket tonight, then debut for Boston next Thursday -- against the Nationals, not Braves.

John Smoltz is set to prove everybody with or without a medical degree wrong again. The fact his first start for Boston probably won’t come against the Braves is OK because, well, apparently even the man who lives for such moments wonders if that one would’ve been too much.

“I was working out, preparing for that possibility,” he said by phone. “But this is probably the best scenario for me just because there would be so much surrounding that game that it wouldn’t be just a game. I’d prefer my start be as normal as possible, even though at the beginning I know it’s not.”

He acknowledged: “The reality is, [facing the Braves] would’ve been one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. But now it’s probably not going to happen.”

He’s trying to make another comeback, this from shoulder surgery. He will pitch four innings of another rehab start tonight for Pawtucket and likely will make his first start as a member of the Boston Red Sox next Thursday in Washington. That means he will not pitch in the weekend series against the Braves at Turner Field, unless the start against Washington is rained out.

When I spoke to Smoltz a few weeks ago during a rehab start in Augusta, it was clear how much he was looking forward to the possibility of pitching against the Braves. But he also said, “It would almost be too much.”

When he said the same thing late Tuesday night, I didn’t believe him. Still not sure I do now.

But it does make sense. Certainly, the Red Sox don’t care about the potential drama surrounding that game. Manager Terry Francona just wants Smoltz ready for the pennant run. I’m sure he had that in mind when he set Smoltz’s spot in what will be a six-man Red Sox rotation (unless something changes).

But I had to ask one more time if he was disappointed.

“I knew it was a possibility and I have to admit that the anticipation intrigued me,” he said. “But I can’t say I’m disappointed. Throughout this process, the one thing I’ve been able to do is focus on tomorrow, not seven days from now. Just deal with tomorrow. This makes it easier.”

75 comments Add your comment

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 17th, 2009
7:43 am

I have to admit I wanted to see a Smoltzy v. Chipper/ McCann faceoff but with the way the Braves are playing I can only hope for rainouts now.

jacket3

June 17th, 2009
8:06 am

I hate to beat dead horses – and the Bravo’s are certainly in that category. The Cincinnati rainstorm last night chewed them up again. 10 singles 1 double and only 2 runs. Small ball is gone or they forgot how to do that. We traded away speed, we have maybe one guy that can bunt, and he is riding pine. The Sox are at the top of their game – we at the bottom of ours and continue our free fall. “Bases loaded” again with Frenchy grounding out. The fundamentals are a dream in a distant past.

I would have really enjoyed watching Smoltzie’s effort here. A lot of us would have. He was, and all always will be one of the best in our generation with his dedication, attitude, and most importantly ETHIC.

Hey Jeff – do you think you could ask him next time you talk – if “The Smoke” could manage a professional ball club – My crystal ball sees an opening again in the not too distant future.

Sam Everyman, Citizen Journalist

June 17th, 2009
8:11 am

I had hoped to cover the game and now I am sorry it won’t take place. I was hoping Jeff would help me with a press pass and entry into the press lounge for access to that big-league cheese tray. Citizen journalism is rewarding but there is no expense account. We have to be mindful of this as we go about the serious business of sports journalism. Fair and balanced, but not so much that it gets in the way of a great buffet . . .

Sage of Bluesland

June 17th, 2009
8:13 am

Bobby Cox’s MO has always been to ‘wait for the three-run homerun’–and I heard Clarence Jones state as much on a WSB pregame interview in 1990 (right before they became the rage again in Atlanta).

Change the hitting coaches all you want, the philosophy isn’t theirs.

Bobby Cox, who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for truly building that Braves team of the 1990s, needs to be bumped up again as GM (or, he should have been many years ago). Schuerholz needs to be let go (like he should have been many years ago).

Funny how Schuerholz left a sinking ship (the Royals) just in time to ’save’ the Braves? Yeah, sure…

LivinInAL

June 17th, 2009
8:26 am

With the state of the Braves now, it makes Smoltz look pretty smart for going to Boston. Those performance contracts are tuff when only about 25% of a team performs on any given night, as has been the case with the Braves this season.

PMC

June 17th, 2009
9:10 am

Who wouldn’t want to pitch against the Braves this season?

BravesFan

June 17th, 2009
9:12 am

Im happy that Smoltz isn’t throwing against the Braves. They way we are playing right now he might come back and go 7 inn of shutout ball. Thats just what the Braves need right now, an old man shoving it to them.

Paul H

June 17th, 2009
9:17 am

Smoltz is a competitor and I feel very confident he would’ve been fired up to show Wren what a mistake he made. It what be hard not to root for him, too. It would also be refreshing to see what a baseball team looks like that can score runs and contend in their division.

DirkDawggler

June 17th, 2009
9:18 am

Right now, I’m a bigger John Smoltz fan than I am a Braves fan. I certainly would have pulled for Smoltzie to do well against the Braves. This season is lost already and I have no confidence in the front office for any future success.

GEORGE

June 17th, 2009
9:19 am

Schultz, for the umteenth time, WHO CARES!! Get a real life!!

BBrown

June 17th, 2009
9:22 am

Probably good, just frees up Smoltz when in ATL to play some golf, go to dinner, etc. with his best buddy, Mark Bradley.

RHR

June 17th, 2009
9:27 am

Good. Then we won’t have to be embarrassed when the few ingrate Braves fans inevitably boo him @ Turner Field.

FalconUGAFan

June 17th, 2009
9:29 am

I know some of you will rip me for this, but its a shame you would consider cheering for the man that left over your team. I liked Smoltz when he was here. But he made his choice and moved on. Cheer for your team and show your loyalty. Loyalty for the team not an individual person.

FalconUGAFan

June 17th, 2009
9:31 am

BTW…Schultz…anyone… Any news on Glavine?

Hoosier Aaron

June 17th, 2009
9:33 am

As a pitcher, not just Smoltz, I’d jump at the chance to face the Bravos lineup right now.

Last night in the first inningm, Aaron Harang threw 9 pitches (3 each to McLouth, Escobar and Chipper)..they swung at all three pitches.
I think McCann saw 4 pitches and swung at 2.

So Harang threw (I think) 13 pitches in the first inning and our hitters swung at 11 of them.

One more thing – in this area – the Braves SportSouth broadcast was blacked out so I was forced to watch the Reds broadcast. Thom Brennaman and Chris Welch started off the game by saying it was unlikely we’d get through the first few innings without a delay.
I would’ve found it very difficult to run JJ out there knowing he would make it through only a couple of innings.
Can’t blame Cox for that – but you have to wonder if the thought crossed his mind.

Tami

June 17th, 2009
9:41 am

Too bad Smoltzie isn’t going to get his chance to pitch against the Braves. He might actually have pulled out a win with the way the team is playing right now. So much for that power & speed they thought they were getting. All we need is for them to do is actually execute situational hitting, especially with hitters in scoring position. Francoeur is just a rally killer. Two situations in the later innings he could have tied things up, or even hit the go-ahead run. Instead, he grounds out. It’s a bit tiring. I’ve had immense patience with Francoeur, but now….it’s just gone.

Tami

June 17th, 2009
9:42 am

PS….I meant to say “RUNNERS in scoring position” in my previous post. Sorry…LOL.

BravesFan

June 17th, 2009
9:44 am

Last night was just another display of a dismal offense. I hate to see Jurrjens not get run support. Especially for the fact that if he doesnt get wins hes probably not going to be wearing the Braves uniform for for very long in the future(demand trade, free agency, knowing Wren shipping him out for a bum)…

ATLfan15

June 17th, 2009
9:44 am

Agree with FalconUGAFan…I’m a BRAVES fan! And even though it’s frustrating to watch them lately, it’s only a grim reminder of what we experienced in the 70s and 80s.

RHR

June 17th, 2009
9:47 am

FalconUGAFan – People don’t have to cheer for him but they certainly don’t have to boo him.

Chief Canthitahoma

June 17th, 2009
9:52 am

Is Bobby Cox really that stubborn?!? How can he not see that Jeff Bennett is no more a Major League pitcher than I am? It’s unbelievable that he continues to use this waste of a roster spot again and again. What more does Bennett have to do to prove to you that he ain’t got it, Bobby?

The Braves will always be a passion of mine, but man is it getting harder and harder to watch them play! It’s like they’ve all taken a sleeping pill that won’t wear off until the offseason. We’re playing like we’ve lost all command of basic fundamentals; we don’t execute, we don’t hustle, and we’re certainly not patient at the plate. I appreciate that Bobby is one of the winningest manangers of all time, but his philosophy simply doesn’t work anymore. I’m not sure it ever really did.

It’s up to you, Braves front office. You and you alone have to decide whether or not we are to continue descending the stairs toward the cellar. Deep pockets or not, it’s time to shake things up. We are quickly reaching a desperate situation.

FalconUGAFan

June 17th, 2009
10:03 am

I agree..but I live and die Atlanta/UGA sports. Players come and go, and I feel no ill will towards them and I wish them luck against other teams. :) But they aren’t on my team anymore. Guess I am just an old school dinosaur.

cjbreed

June 17th, 2009
10:03 am

get rid of jeff francouer

BBrown

June 17th, 2009
10:04 am

Regarding Glavine, I seen various articles with rumors of Texas, St. Louis, and Philly having an interest. Nothing else that I’m aware of at the time.

Kevin

June 17th, 2009
10:05 am

well Smoltz will face us in boston next play them in fenway park….at least they have a manager n fans a front office are’s still in 1991 mood. Time for change we need bobby cox go n beat his wife more!

Chief Canthitahoma

June 17th, 2009
10:06 am

Sage-

Bobby as General Manager? Are you completely nuts? I remind you that he already was the Braves’ GM. In 1990. And he traded Dale Murphy for Jim Vatcher, Victor Rosario, and Jeff Parrott. Enough said.

Dave

June 17th, 2009
10:06 am

John Smoltz made his choice and went for the bucks! That was fine until he opened his mouth and had an opinion on everything in Atlanta that doesn’t concern him anymore! He has demonstrated that he is no different than every other spoiled and over-paid professional athlete! We are rebuilding and are doing it right with younger and more durable players and I am confident we will be fine down the road! Who cares about Smoltz in Atlanta anymore! Our loyalty to him and Glavine and Hampton cost us last season and our loyalty to Chipper, Jeff, and Bobby is hurting us this season! Our fate was sealed when Bobby did not retire and let a younger and more energetic manager take over and fire up this team! It takes time folks and we are getting there, but we do not need the team run from this newspaper!

Pete Orr

June 17th, 2009
10:08 am

“Im happy that Smoltz isn’t throwing against the Braves. They way we are playing right now he might come back and go 7 inn of shutout ball.”

More like a complete game shutout on 85 pitches…

Jeff Schultz

June 17th, 2009
10:10 am

CHIEF TIM: Smoltz vs. Chipper would’ve been a classic, because you knew who ever came out on top would never have let the other guy forget it.

JACKET3: I don’t see managing in John’s future. I see a lot of golf and coaching kids basketball. Not sure that he has the temperament to manage – or the desire.

SAM: Next time I see ya, I’ll sneak you a couple of cheddar balls and some crackers. Ah, the perks.

LIVINGINAL: Uh, yeah.

BRAVESFAN: In your scenario, the post-game certainly would’ve been interesting. (Thinking of it as a journalist.)

FALCONUGAFAN: Cheer, boo – doesn’t matter. As a fan, you have the right to do anything you want. .. On Glavine: no.

Sonny Clusters

June 17th, 2009
10:18 am

I read where you think Jeff messed up last night but thats just the way Jeff plays ball. If hed hit that ball it wouldve gone out and nobody can say any different. When we was in school playing ball together hed hit more out than he missed and he will do that again if he gets that arm-bar straightened out that Chipper was talking about because Jeff is so good he really dont need coaching. He wont listen anyway because we was state champs and we know what to do.

Peter

June 17th, 2009
10:20 am

Does it really matter………. we are a 4th place club battling for the cellar ! ? !

We are club that doesn’t really have a clue……. with a few really great players !

Please get Bobby Cox an Office Job………And Please get rid of Terry as the hitting coach !

triplec

June 17th, 2009
10:28 am

I think it would have been great if Smoltz had come back here and throw a no-hitter. Not a perfect game though. He needs to hit frenchy a few times just because he’s horrible

Bryan G.

June 17th, 2009
10:32 am

Hey, Jeff, your co-worker Mark Bradley said he didn’t much care for Smoltz…are you in the same camp?

Keisha Waites

June 17th, 2009
10:35 am

Although I am not the biggest baseball fan Smoltz’s contribution to Atlanta and the Braves is immeasurable, thank you John for many great years. Sad to see the reunion won’t occur.

Jeff Schultz

June 17th, 2009
10:36 am

BBROWN: My guess is Glavine’s deciding for sure whether he wants to pitch. He had been in a it’s-here-or-nowhere mindset before being released.

CHIEF CANT.: Who do you think rebuilt the Braves farm system, which set them up for the 90s? That would be Mr. Cox.

TRIPLEC: Not nice. But I kinda expected the punchline. (Fact is, Smoltz and Francoeur are good friends.)

BRIAN G: It’s pretty clear that Mark and I are in decidedly different camps on Smoltz. But I’m sure there are people he likes that I don’t, so it’s no biggie.

BravesFan

June 17th, 2009
10:40 am

“Regarding Glavine, I seen various articles with rumors of Texas, St. Louis, and Philly having an interest”

Why would they have intereset. Wren said hes not good enough…

Sonny Clusters

June 17th, 2009
10:47 am

“I think it would have been great if Smoltz had come back here and throw a no-hitter. Not a perfect game though. He needs to hit frenchy a few times just because he’s horrible.” triplec

Wait til Jeff gets a hole of one and then youll see. Hes not horrible when he get hole of one.

Supes

June 17th, 2009
10:50 am

John Smoltz = cowardly lion from the wizard of Oz.

Darth Nick

June 17th, 2009
10:52 am

I agree its time for Bobby and TP to go. Braves hitters are a advance scouts dream. If there is a weakness in there swing you can pitch to it over and over again. If you follow scouting report, you can get them out every time. Francouer can’t turn on inside pitch and beats it in the ground to third base all the time. He has not adjusted in 2 years and they just keep throwing it inside. K Johnson isn’t much better. He is .240 hitter and always will be. The other hitters (except McCann, Chipper) have no power. .Then our manager doesn’t bunt or steal bases. Just frustrating. Maybe we can trade for Fred McGriff to bat in front Gant and Justice.

Poorbrave

June 17th, 2009
10:53 am

I was there in 60,70, 80, and the Braves today look very familiar. It looks just like Bobby’s first 2 years with Braves when he would sleep in dugout during batting practice. Thats no lie..I had Victory take picturers.

Bobby’s time has past…when will Management wake up? I still Love the Man but the truth is the truth, sometimes it hurts but life goes on.

Gene

June 17th, 2009
10:54 am

What will I watch when the college WS is over?

Mine This Bird

June 17th, 2009
10:59 am

I was really looking forward to booing Smoltz.

RHR

June 17th, 2009
11:00 am

Oh yay! Sonny Clusters is back. Do you have any good storys four us from when yew and Jeff was teammates?

Poorbrave

June 17th, 2009
11:02 am

Victor took pictures for Braves 30 years or more. Braves had a special day for him not long ago. Is he still there?

Jeff is Victor still taking pictures are what? Sure would like to talk with him again. What a great man.

Frenchie's Fried

June 17th, 2009
11:04 am

Jeff, I’m interested to know your thoughts on this…. last night, as I ONCE AGAIN watched #7 ground out with the bases loaded and two outs, it occured to me that this seems to happen almost every time he’s at the plate. Not necessarily bases loaded, but definitely with RISP. How would you feel about moving him UP in the batting order? It almost seems to me that you would want someone more dependable following Chipper and BMac.

(I’m thinking #2)

Chief Canthitahoma

June 17th, 2009
11:04 am

The idol worship of Bobby Cox is truly amazing. He was GM from 1985-1990, and yes, he worked hard to improve our farm system. I’ll concede that point. Yet, despite the plethora of talent that he himself harvested, he was still only able to guide the Braves to 1 lone world championship. There’s something seriously wrong there. It’s more than just dumb luck. And I think we need to give John Schuerholz a LITTLE credit for introducing players like Bream, McGriff, Maddux, Pendleton, etc. into the mix. Like it or not, Bobby is a tired act and his stubborness has cost us dearly through the years.

KT

June 17th, 2009
11:06 am

Will Bobby cox please retire at the end of this season….

zincc

June 17th, 2009
11:17 am

Many of you people are really cruel. I, just like the rest of you, am disappointed in where the Braves are right now and how they are (aren’t) performing. But, I still root for them and hope they will turn it around. As for Smoltz pitching against the Braves, it will happen eventually and maybe both the Braves and Smoltz will be in a better place and it will be very fun to watch.

KEVIN, your comment is just way wrong!

Sonny Cluster is back

June 17th, 2009
11:25 am

RHR, thanks friend. Glad yew asked the question about Jeff and storys four (4) us?
Where do I start, Ok I was Jeff Bourroughs roommate in 1977 when he hit 41 home runs and hit like 270 ba.Then in1979 he only hit around 230 ba much like Frenchy today. He loved to Fish and play horseshoes……thanks for asking friend.

Bill M

June 17th, 2009
11:29 am

Smoltz: good luck in your future endeavors and please stop with the negative Braves’ comments. Glavine: good luck in your future endeavors and please stop with the negative Braves’ comments. Bobby Cox: good luck in your future endeavors and thanks for the one world series out of the three or more we should have won. Terry Pendleton: good luck in your future endeavors and sorry, we don’t know what we were thinking.