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Smoltz: ‘It will be a success’

06.24.09 at 6:14 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — Speaking prior to the Red Sox‘ game against the Nationals, Wednesday, John Smoltz touched on his expectations heading into his first start of the season, Thursday, among other things:

(On expectations) ‘€œLet’€™s see, how about no runs, as many innings as they’€™ll let me pitch. Basically I want to go out there and do what I’€™ve done the last few starts and that’€™s command my pitches and see what else happens.’€

(On velocity) ‘€œThe biggest thing is I have enough pitches to get hitters out and the stuff that everyone is talking about might be different, so be it. But I think the ability to pitch and get guys out will be the same.’€

(On reinventing himself) “Absolutely. This is not the old or the new or the done. This is just a new chapter of which, when I have a baseball in my hand, I feel like I can make a pitch and do the things I have to do to hopefully take the sting out of the bat and if that’€™s the case, we’€™ll progress and keep getting better every time out. Tomorrow is just one rung on the ladder to try to climb as far as I can to see how good I can be and really, at the end of the day, be in a position to pitch in the playoffs.’€

(On optimism heading into start) ‘€œIt will be a success. I came back with this mindset. It ain’€™t about stories, it ain’€™t about to say I can do it again. This is about pitching and getting hitters out. The end result is going to be that. And in three, four, five starts from now, I think you’€™ll see why I feel the way I do.’€

(On being too antsy)  ‘€œHopefully I’€™ll learn from some of those past experiences of what I call the two most anxious moments. My first game as a closer and my first game back as a starter in five years. Neither of which did I do very well. Both of which, those years turned out to be great years. I’€™m not going to get too caught up in whether or not it’€™s a success or a failure based on one start. It’€™s just a process. That will be determined by how I go about it.’€

‘€œI’€™ve got to find my routine again. Once I do that and cross the white lines, and certainly pitch, then everything will be calm, it really will. I’€™ll be at ease. I’€™ve hated to watch this many games for this long period of time but I knew what my schedule was like and it was going to be a little hectic and a little time consuming and a lot of patience and I survived most of it.’€

(On being with a new team) ‘€œThat part will be a little bit different but it won’€™t be weird to be in a uniform and throwing a baseball, I can promise you that. When I’€™m on the mound, I’€™m going to give everything that I absolutely have. I’€™ll let everyone else determine what it is that I have because I know when ‘€˜Tek puts his finger down, I’€™m trying to execute the best pitch I possibly can and there’€™s no excuses after that. It’€™s up to me to make pitches. From the very beginning of the game, it will be from an attack mode, whatever pitches I have, I’€™ll be on the attack.’€

(On the help of Jason Varitek) ‘€œQuite a bit. I’€™ll draw a lot from this experience of probably being able to have the most prepared catcher in all of baseball and I certainly don’€™t anticipate shaking my head too many times. The most committed pitch I can throw is the best pitch I can throw and we go from there.’€

(On Nationals, and former Atlanta, president Stan Kasten) ‘€œWe joked a few months ago. He predicted this would be one of my starts. He said, you’€™re going to do this, aren’€™t you. I said, well, if it works out, it would be great.’€

(On if it would be more fun if still with Atlanta)  ‘€œThat’€™s past now. There’€™s no sense even dwelling on that. I made it pretty well known back then what I wanted to do and it didn’€™t work out. Certainly, coming back from surgery, as I’€™ve said many times, this is not a half year job. This is not something I wanted to do just for a half a year. I plan on pitching past this year. I don’€™t get caught up in it any more as far as the future and what everyone thinks as far as what I should have done or could have done.’€

(On whether there will ever be three pitchers together who will dominate that long) ‘€œThe short answer is no. I think there’€™s too much that goes into the dynamics, and of course, the team’€™s willingness to want to keep that together.’€

(On when he knew he would be signing with the Red Sox) ‘€œOnce the scenario played out and they came and saw me pitch, it was not going to be any other team if it didn’€™t work out with Atlanta. Their philosophy and everything that they had for me made all the sense in the world. We weren’€™t going to progress and look at anything else if it didn’€™t work out, and it didn’€™t, so this is the best case scenario for me.’€

‘€œI’€™m a big first impression guy. Certainly when they came and made that first impression, they went out of their way to see me throw in December or whatever it was and sat down and really got aggressive with their philosophy. It was a no brainer. As you can tell by how long I was in Atlanta, I’€™m pretty loyal.’€

(On if he ever felt it wasn’t worth it to come back) ‘€œThere’€™s a lot of those times but I’€™ve had those previously in many a different comeback to be able to say I’€™m not a guy that gives in easily to emotions. With the experience of coming back so many different times, I knew what was going to be a very difficult road and an untraveled road because I’€™ve never had shoulder surgery. I drew on the experiences of my past surgeries and the determination to do something every day, whether I wanted to or not. I never dreamed that I was going to go that long without sleep. That was the roughest part. I didn’€™t sleep for about three weeks after shoulder surgery. There was no position I could sleep in. Once I got through that, the hurdles were a lot less.’€

‘€œI’€™ll throw all my other pitches. I’€™ll see some arm angles and change if they need to be. I’€™m not afraid to throw any pitch, other than, the changeup will be more of a feel pitch. I’€™ll bring it along. Whatever pitch I think is best for the moment, I will throw it and look at tape later to determine if it was the right one or not.”

(On reflecting on the comeback) ‘€œI wish I could probably sleep here and make sure I’€™m here tomorrow. You know what, that will be a process I’€™ll go through later. Right now, I’€™m just trying to focus on watching this game for the last time on the DL, hopefully.’€

(On if he has heard from Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux) ‘€œI’€™ve had a couple of texts asking me what I’€™m going to throw. Certainly, I’€™ve had a lot of support. A lot of people are going to be watching for that first start. Like I said, I just hope that it’€™s just a normal first start and people don’€™t make too big a deal out of it one way or the other because I won’€™t.’€

(On how many kinds of pitches he will be throwing) “Four or five. I rely on four. If need be, depending on the batter, change it up a little bit. I want them thinking about a lot of things. Hopefully they are.’€

 

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