Don’t get your hopes up, Boston

Via BTF comes a story from WEEI about JS that is a lot of BS:

The Sox’ contingent didn’t know what to expect in the 50-pitch side session, perhaps just a stream of straight balls and a subsequent physical examination. But, with his agents also looking on, Smoltz first threw a few 40-yard passes and then picked up a slew of worn baseballs he said “had a mind of their own”.

Finally came the first pitch.

“I’m standing back there ready to get this warm-up pitch,” Scherer remembered. “Then, all of a sudden, here comes this 92 mph fastball, low and away, that doesn’t touch my glove. I immediately thought, ‘I better get down now. He’s ready to go.’ . . .

. . . “He starts mixing in his slider, and I’m like, ‘All right, it has a nice late break and it’s hard,’” Scherer said. “But then he was like, ‘Now I’m going to throw a curveball’, and he breaks off this 12-to-6 that totally fools me. And then he starts saying we’re going to throw split-fingers, changeups, and a little of this and that. I’m like, ‘Good Lord Smoltzy, you’re ready to pitch, aren’t you?!’”

It’s not BS because it didn’t happen. In fact, I’m sure that it did. Why am I sure? Because Smoltz is basically superhuman and I have no doubt that he could break off 12-6 curveballs and fire fastballs with outrageous action if he were a double amputee.

But that’s the problem. Basically every single time Smoltz had to shut it down with Atlanta it was the same thing: outrageously good pitching — snapping slider, exploding fastball, knee-buckling splitter — followed by a DL stint because it just hurt so damn much for him to do it. This is to say that unlike so many hurlers, Smoltz’s injuries were not presaged by fat pitches up in the zone and serial shellackings. Smoltz is part machine. He is able to work through pain and keep his mechanics flawless. If he can’t, he is able to adjust his delivery so lessen the pain and remain effective.

But only to a point. Eventually the pain becomes too great — pain that most pitchers never experience because they aren’t tough enough to pitch hurt as long as Smoltz can — and he has to shut it down. When Smoltz is hurt, no one knows it until he tells someone, and while I don’t intend to impugn his integrity or anything, I’m sure he wouldn’t tell anyone on the Red Sox that he was hurting in a tryout situation like the one described in the article.

Because I love the guy, I hope he is lights out for the Red Sox. Because I have seen him so much, however, I would not at all be surprised to see him throw 8 shutout innings with 16 strikeouts in his first game and then be shut down for the rest of the year immediately thereafter.

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  1. xdog said...

    I’m a great admirer of Samurai Smoltz, but there’s a fair amount of spin in that article.  Not once in 20+ years of watching JS have I seen him break off a 12-6 curve.

  2. Alskor said...

    Fortunately the Red Sox are years ahead of the rest of baseball in diagnosing and treating arm injuries, according to Will Carroll. They monitor shoulder strength daily and have a special regimen that has been widely lauded. Their reputation for keeping pitchers healthy is what drew Colon last year by his own admission and I would imagine was a significant factor for Penny, Smoltz and Saito.

  3. Aaron Moreno said...

    I don’t know Craig, I heard this spring that Smoltz is in the best shape of his life. He’s also tooling around with a new pitch!

  4. Chris Simonds said...

    Maybe since Curt Schilling and the bloody sock, ailing pitchers figure they can go out in a blaze of glory if they spend their last years with the Red Sox. Maybe the Red Sox believe it too. As someone who remembers buck and a quarter bleacher seats and middle of the week day games at Fenway, I hope it’s all true. I will be following Smoltz’s and Penny’s every practice pitch come February, along with all those of the usual Sox pitching suspects.

  5. Mikee said...

    I dont think it was the training regiment that got those injury prone guys to Beantown.  I think it was the guaranteed money.

  6. Wes said...

    Hey, I heard Smoltz has been mixing in some x-ray vision.  He’s still working out the mechanics, but apparently he can already see through ladies’ blouses.  I’m not sure if it’ll help, but it can’t hurt!  Unless he gets distracted, what with the whole blouses thing.

  7. alskor said...

    “I dont think it was the training regiment that got those injury prone guys to Beantown.  I think it was the guaranteed money.”

    Have you read their comments? Are you aware Smoltz turned down a more lucrative offer ($8M)? Baldelli turned down a more lucrative offer and more playing time. Penny may have turned down more money. B

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