Results tagged ‘ John Smoltz ’

Smoltz eyes June

Jason Varitek will address the media on Saturday, marking his first public comments of any kind since he signed his contract extension.

Today, John Smoltz was the story. The candid righty just got finished addressing the media, and per usual, was expansive in his thoughts about everything he was asked.

Being with the Sox: “First
and foremost, it’s a great opportunity. I look at it as how equipped they are
to win a championship. To be part of that in whatever capacity they want me to
be part of that gets my blood boiling to the point where I can never get enough
of that.”

Time-table: “My time-table is a lot faster than most but I like what they’ve done here and
they’ve got me to realize the strength of this club. They don’t really want me
to think about anything other than June. So sometime June thereafter to be as
strong as I possibly can to help them down the stretch. That gives me 12 months
of rehab. Even if I feel like I’m ready in April or May, it doesn’t matter. I’m
buying into it with all the resources they have here and what they’ve made me
feel like in a short period of time. I’ve told them their biggest challenge for
me is to tame me down because I’m a full-bore guy and I love to compete. They’ve
communicated it well and I look forward to the opportunities when they come.”

Still wanting to compete at the highest level instead of retiring: ““When
I came back from this surgery, the competitive juices were still there. I still
was able to work out, I could still do all the things I wanted to do. I wasn’t
limited. I’ve heard my whole life what I can’t do. I feel in my heart that I’ll
know when it’s time to retire. I enjoy pitching and competing and there’s
nothing better for me than to think about postseason and to think about the
atmosphere that Boston has, the rivalry that exists that everyone knew.
Whatever team you’ve been on, you know that existed in this league. I can’t
wait to be part of it.”

Confident in himself and his new team:  I’m super
confident or I wouldn’t be here today. I have nothing to gain to just come back
and say I could throw again. I have everything to lose if that’s my mindset. I
know what I’m capable of doing and the competing factor is not something I’m
worried about. The physical part I’m really not. it’s just going to be, can I
stay in this mode and slow down when I know I want to pitch? The pressure is
off for me with that regard the way they’ve approached it here. They’re not
missing too much for this team to have a chance to win, with or without me. I
like the fact that I can be part of that.”

The new uniform: “The one thing
you can be assured with me is wearing a new uniform will not be a problem.
Learning names and knowing how to get around, that could be a little bit of an
issue. I’m used to being at the same place. I could drive to and from work with
my eyes closed, I’ve been there so long. That’s the only thing. I’m taking that
one one step at a time. Accomodations. The final piece for me is getting
accommodations in Boston. When I know where I’m going to live, I’m going to be
able to breathe a little easier. As far as putting on the uniform, and getting
out there and competing and helping in any way I can, that’s just who I am. I hope
the young guys pick my brain. I hope it’s a situation that’s all positive
because I’m looking forward to it that way in regards to being able to, what I
call, maximize the experiences that I have.”

Anything to prove
to the Braves? “I’ve turned the page. I’ve got a lot of friends over there. In
baseball, you play against so many ex-teammates anyway. When you get on the
rubber and you toe the rubber and you get a ball in your hand, I know a lot of
people and I try to get them out. That’s going to be the same approach I have
this year. When I get back into knowing I’m getting close to pitching again,
all bets are off.”

Will he play in the Champions Tour some day? “That’s a goal of mine. I’m going to pursue that when I retire and see what
level I can get to. I can safely say I will be in a tournament. I don’t know
how many of them, but I will be in an event to test my skills to see if that’s
something I could learn from my past or previous profession in baseball. I look
forward to that challenge as well.”

Of Rocco and Smoltz .. and a Penny for my thoughts

Finally, the 2009 Red Sox have begun to take shape with the only real ambiguity now whether Jason Varitek or someone else splits catching duties with Josh Bard.

Let’s start with the feel-good story of the day, the official news that the Red Sox have signed Rocco Baldelli, the pride of Cumberland, R.I. Well, let’s see, the Red Sox were looking for a fourth outfielder with pop in his bat and the ability to play all three OF positions. Enter Rocco, who does all those things. The difference is that Baldelli, when right, is a starting-caliber player. And given that J.D. Drew will probably miss three weeks to a month at some point during the year — no knock, J.D., that’s just who you are! — it is very valuable depth.

Obviously Baldelli’s health is an issue, but it sounds like progress has been made in determining why he was experiencing such excessive fatigue and how to combat it. If he stays on the field, this is a terrific signing. Baldelli and Theo Epstein will talk about the signing later today, prior to the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner.

Now, to John Smoltz. The veteran righty has long been one of my favorite pitchers to watch because, much like guys like Curt Schilling and David Wells, no stage is too big for him. Smoltz craves the big moment. Though the Red Sox obviously came through with a far better financial offer than the Braves, I wouldn’t be surprised if the allure of winning for a big market team had just as much to do with this highly-competitive athlete finishing his career somewhere other than Atlanta.

As for Mr. Brad Penny, if I had said a year ago or even two years ago, who would you rather have as your No. 4 starter, Penny or Burnett, I think a lot of you would have said Penny. He has always had tremendous stuff, but last year he obviously had arm problems and might have even clashed with management a little. If that was just his one down year — kind of like the one Mike Lowell had for the Marlins in 2005 — this could be one of the best signings of the winter, considering the price.

Now, Theo figures to spend his remaining weeks before Spring Training trying to find a catcher, or just keeping the old one. Personally, I hope they can keep Varitek. I think he means a lot to that team, both from a stability standpoint and with game preparation. But I do think Jason would need to come to grips with the fact that Josh Bard is going to pinch-hit for him quite a bit, and that he figures to get closer to 90 or 100 starts than the 120 he’s been accustomed to.

All for now. Talk to you in a bit. I’ll be live from the Writers Dinner tonight.

Ian.

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