Every so often we get e-mails from the great media relations folks over at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, mostly containing information about upcoming guests on their MLB shows, particularly MLB Home Plate’s “The Show” – featuring Jody McDonald and former MLB pitcher Rob Dibble.
Yesterday’s e-mail, however, was of particular interest to Cardinal fans, so I checked with Sirius XM to see if I could post it here, and they kindly obliged.
Newest St. Louis Cardinal pitcher John Smoltz was a guest on “The Show” yesterday (08.19.09) with Jody and Rob, and some of the things he had to say were quite interesting.
Host, Rob Dibble: “How close do you feel you were to being right before Boston let you go?”
John Smoltz: “Well, I wasn’t as close as I wanted to be. Obviously, I can’t argue the results but the results were not totally indicative of how I threw the baseball. We’re in a results-oriented business so how can you argue my stats? But mechanically I wasn’t able to reproduce things that I needed to in clutch situations and I was fighting myself and had a tough time in between starts trying to get better and that limited me. It wasn’t a lack of faith or desire. I wasn’t scared. I just didn’t get it done because the pitches that were beating me were location and my stuff at times was as good as it has been but just wasn’t good enough all the time.”
Smoltz: “I went home for 13 days, worked on a high school field, went to Georgia Tech and threw, got all the people who have ever worked with me looking at it and we’ve hopefully unlocked a simple secret but one that slipped away from me, [which] was the heel of my shoe was about two inches off the rubber pointed the wrong way and causing me to not get away from my arm side, to the left side of the plate which is where I’ve always been good, and it just really trickled down into a lot of bad habits. So I wouldn’t be doing this today if I didn’t think I could make the necessary adjustments to really help a ball club. I could just as easily sit at home and watch baseball and get ready for fantasy football but I’m not ready for that yet.”
Host, Jody McDonald: “It was reported there were a bunch of teams that called your agent when they knew you became available. Why the Cardinals?”
Smoltz: “Well, there was a lot of tough decisions and I’ve played long enough to have enough ex-teammates on I think just about every team that was calling and all expressing interest in different ways and different roles. And for me personally this was the best fit. It gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet again. I need reps. I need to get out there and feel good about my pitches and they need to see it. They need to know and assess what role is going to be the best for them. They’ve created a body of work that I’ve had nothing to do with and certainly want to be able to contribute in any way I can. I really believe that I know still what it takes. I know the difference between pressure and making big pitches. Now I’ve just got to get myself in that position. Their clubhouse, their guys that were there really all led to me making a decision that was the best for me and my family.”
On his departure from the Red Sox:
Smoltz: “Honestly, I created such a tough situation for them that I don’t blame them. And I would have done the same thing. They’re in, like we said, a results-oriented business and need to win now and I wasn’t getting it done and it didn’t look good. A break would have been nice away from, if there is such a thing, away from the media to try and figure it out but that wasn’t going to be afforded. I have nothing but the utmost respect and [I’m] so thankful that Boston gave me an opportunity to prove I could come back and show that I was healthy. I just didn’t get it done in the shortest period of time at a time where I needed to.”
On the game plan with the Cardinals:
Smoltz: “I’ve got about four more hours to unpack and get things on a plane and get back home and then join them Thursday in San Diego, throw a side session, continue to do what I think are the things that are going to turn it around for me and then join the rotation and get some innings in for at least a couple of starts and get my reps and everything that I need to do. Of course, September is right around the corner and then the flexibility starts with all kinds of different options. I’m not trying to go out and throw a no hitter or throw 97 miles an hour. What I want to do it get back into the game situations, pitch accordingly and learn as much as I can to fulfill the role that they need to help them hopefully win some playoff games. They’ve got a nice lead now and I believe that was the ball club that could sustain the storyline of me coming over and giving me some time to work it out.”
McDonald: “So there is a possibility that if everyone’s on the same page that you can help the Cardinals in the bullpen, you may end up doing some relieving for them?”
Smoltz: “Yeah, that could be. Whatever they feel is the best role. I’ve done both but at this point I’ve trained this long comeback to start and to create this structure. So I’d have to find out where I’m at physically and where I’m at, more importantly, pitch-wise. You know, every game that I came out this year, with the exception of Washington, the first couple of innings were great. And I know that a lot of teams were looking at that as saying that maybe I fatigued or got tired or whatever the reasons would be and I tend to think, mechanically, you flirt with fire long enough you’re going to get burned and that’s what happened to me. Mechanically I wasn’t as good as I needed to be so the longer you’re out there and the more big league hitters you face the better chance you are to run into some innings. So getting ready and pitching a big inning is not a big deal for me. The big deal’s going to be how many times can I do it and how many times can I get up and down? So that’s where getting my innings in right now will be important. I’m not an idiot. I realize I’ve got to get some results. So the first couple starts or the first couple games I’m not going to put the pressure I put on myself and just go out there and make pitches.”
Some takeaways from that interview?
Smoltz thinks he’s found a mechanical tweak, perhaps as simple as adjusting his position on the pitching rubber.
He doesn’t seem averse to pitching in the bullpen, but still reiterates that preference to start games. All indications point to an understanding, however, that come late regular season and/or playoff time, his best-suited role may indeed be out of the bullpen.
Smoltz is a proud guy and no doubt feels he has some things to prove. Let’s just hope he finds himself in the right situations to do so.
This transcript was reprinted with the permission of Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
“The Show,” with Jody McDonald and Rob Dibble, airs weekdays from 4 – 6 pm ET on MLB Home Plate (XM channel 175 and SIRIUS channel 210 with the “Best of XM” programming package).