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Familiar surroundings for Smoltz

03.31.09 at 1:00 am ET
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Yes, John Smoltz played golf with Tiger Woods Monday. But before that he also was reunited with his old team, the Atlanta Braves. After meeting with his former teammates and former team, this is what Smoltz had to say:

(Is he looking forward to June?): “No, I refuse to do that. Does me no good. There’s no missions, there no game plan for anything other than –– my job is hard enough as it is to get to the position where I want to be. And when I say hard enough, people are going to draw conclusions based on things they hear or see, and that’s not going to be a good indicator of what I know.”

“I’ve over time, proved that, even here, over there –– I would say things that people didn’t believe. And then they would go, ‘oh, yeah, he was telling the truth.’ There’s a lot of things I know about my body and what I can do. Certainly, that’ll be my same assessment. It’ll just be a newer team, but trust my past.”

(Anything surprise in the process with the Red Sox?): “I wouldn’t say surprised, as much as you get a year older, you work a little harder, maintain the habits that you had, you learn some new philosophies and some new training, and you adapt. I’ve adapted well, I think. And been patient at the same time.”

(Did he see anybody in the front office?): “I didn’t see anybody but the assistant GM. Didn’t see any of those others.”

(On if people didn’t listen to him in the past): “Absolutely. I can name 100 scenarios when, over time, they eventually, the last three or four years, said, he says it, we’ve got to trust him, look at his track record.

“But, I mean… going from year to year, going from starter to closer, closer back to starter, everyone had their own opinion, said I was crazy, they asked me questions for years, I answered them, and they still thought I was crazy. Said we don’t believe you.

“Having said that, there’s some mystery that goes into dealing with – I’m unique, or I should say, I’ve been able to do some things that have to come from trust.

“Being here for the first time, they’re having the same conversations, learning to trust what I ve done in the past, where I am, and how I feel, and how it correlates to what I’m trying to do. So far its been a real good marriage.

“I’m going to look at it as very much as what I’m doing is restrained, but they have a purpose for why I’m restrained. Whereas over here, over there, I was more of a cog, and counted on, and felt like I had to do more of those things. Whereas here, I’m an add on, which is really unique, but nice at the same time. Knowing they’re good enough without me, but with me, they can actually make …”

(On playing under Braves manager Bobby Cox): “Whenever you’re with somebody, and you’ve grown to learn – I mean, over time, Bobby knew exactly what I could do, the training staff knew wha t I could do. Outside looking in, I haven’t talked to the media every day, or at least answered questions that were being asked. And I think there was the sense that they’re not getting a straight answer here.

“An example would be, there was a lot of people who didn’t believe that closing would not be better for my arm than starting. Or that starting would be better for my arm than closing. Ain’t no way. Or when I came back from starting, there was no way he would be able to do it.”

“I think when you’ve pitched 20-some years, and you’ve been hurt a couple times, and had five surgeries, sooner or later, somebody’s going to be right. I hope it still means I get out of the game before I prove them right. The so-called experts, that have always tabbed me with certain things I can do, or should do, or games I should win. I think, knowing what I’ve known inside, having pitched through all those injuries, contributed to a lot of that stuff that people will never know. It led me to another surgery.

“This’ll be another case that I had a chance to prove I know what I’m talking about.”

(Proving Braves wrong): “I know there’s a lot of people who think I have a built-in incentive to prove somebody wrong, to prove somebody wrong, prove them wrong. That’s going to be an obvious thing, but that’s not what motivates me. It really isn’t. If that’s what motivated me, then that would run its course, then I would not maximize, and I would just settle for being able to pitch in a game again.

“For whatever reason, I’m a guy who’s motivated by my own motives, and I really want to be as good as I possibly can be. I don’t want to be across my shoulder or turning back on I wish I would have done this, I wish I would have done that. When I turn the page, I turn the page. 

“When I went from starter to closer, I was a closer. When I went from closer back to starter I was a starter. I turn the page.”

(Reflecting on return to Braves): “I’ve walked that walk thousands of times, and never have I gone in there retired, or as a visitor. As I said to the Atlanta media, it’s not like I’m in the division or the national league. Way away until go and play each other. Two totally different missions, two totally different paths. If they meet up at the end, that would be something unique.

“But I’m all in, I’m all in over here. I’ve enjoyed it, but anytime you spend that long with somebody, teammates, a manager, it’s certainly going to bring about some oddness.”

(On leaving Bobby Cox): “It was Familiarity with a manager who knows what I am, knows what I do, knows how I do it, knows what makes me tick, is looking out for my best interests always, giving me opportunities to take unique advantages of things, because he knows that I’m going to bleed for him on the field.

“We had a special bond for 22 years, that you don’t usually have in this game. From that, my decisions, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. That was one of the reasons I stayed.”

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