Bradfo Sho, Ep. 75: The inside story of John Smoltz's short life as a Red Sox

The Bradfo Sho
Tuesday, April 17th
Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz joins Rob Bradford to offer what really happened during his eight-game stretch with the Red Sox in 2009. Smoltz offers some candid commentary when it comes to the idea of using a closer for something other than getting the last three outs of a win, a topic that has been swirling around the Sox thanks to the presence of Craig Kimbrel.

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Add road show. That might open definitely probably would have brought that I don't. Query where you don't know what you're stupid Brad broad show. That's delicious. So I run into John Smoltz at Fenway Park in your things really intrigued me by him. That two things that I actually care about. Number one this bizarre. Eight games he spent with a Red Sox to me you have to go back to 2009. And remember what that was like you Brad I mean Daisuke and his rotation and they're trying to find a way to get this guy in this rotation after spending so many years for the Braves it was a big big deal. And then you know 833 ERA later. You know he's off to Saint Louis in Basil thyme and having careers over by. It was I remember it was it was an interesting time it was an adjustment I mean you know what socket a small it really just didn't disappoint at all. In terms of how we're trusting it was. How odd noteworthy was eight games eight games of the Red Sox by. He's a really adjusting to try to talk to as you're gonna find out a few seconds here the other thing is is closer he was a closer and I game I am really really intrigued by. How low the closers guys who have close. Think I'll vote to this whole idea bring closers in the seventh and eighth inning. And maybe not valuing the final three out. Of a game like I think closers do I've heard it time and time again and Kimball totem podcast a couple days ago. Which is you know those last three out they are unlike any other three outs and small. If a guy who close a close very well. I think he sort of is along the same lines of thinking. So. A couple different topics of John small he's always a dig got it tied to insightful. I think may be the best one of the best anyway color analyst. On TV there is the use offs under in the World Series. So I'll read into Rome by dual podcast I'm glad I did take a lesson. My first question is. What's your memory of I remembered the being in spring training me. And I was like fresh healthy well I'm putting went in the rear premiere in new start everything was your memory hopes of being a red stuff. Couldn't believe how hard it made it a myself. It was almost as if you know Stillman this rich organization. And my past. Was met with my future. Scenario of this sick you don't try to come back and I've fully I fully wish I could've had a do over if I could come back here in the same circumstances I was stays stubborn to the things that. Allowed me to be successful post surgery in other words rehab some of the things that I was doing was unconventional. And I'm most disappointed that I did say stubborn at 41 years old I I kind of caved in went with the current regime that was here and it was miserable for me it really was so bad that I wanted to do so well. For the Red Sox because they took a chance on me that. You know coming back was probably 1520%. Post surgery and I worked my tail off and I put so much pressure on myself. That literally my first start of Washington. I can remember not feeling my legs and knowing where to literally you know I was nothing I've ever experienced in my life it's a greatest games. The pressure wise that you could pitch and never felt the tension or pressure that I felt that probably more so because I've put on myself. What words salute you specifically what was well or what were the things that you said I should have done this instead of that. Well I was rehab and come back to show people that I was not fearful of what to surgery did meeting I could throw a baseball post about five months now sort of pretty well. And I realize had to build up strength of things had to happen but. I got shut down for months. And it it just as seized up I had my shoulder was never the same. Again and I. I could not utilized the boot. The genetics that I had I knew it was going to be different a different type pitcher. And you know ultimately got back to pitching games but it didn't pitch well and the freedom of once I got released. Of trying to figure it out again. And I was able to do that with Saint Louis and their whole approach was. We know you've been successful. Just do what you need to do to be successful and now. Again like I said this was a town that I view you wanna play well I mean you really do that I can see where. This town if you're not. Comfortable doing what you're saying how it can be difficult for players but. I was. It was an out of body experience it was it was really do. I can't explain it because I now I gained appreciation for what other people feel like when they are actually playing a regular season game or. When they're struggling because the attention of pressures so great. I'm not afraid anything I just couldn't believe it put on myself the kind of pressure it did produce to you is too much too early and it just could've went backwards. Do you think today. Do you talk about Boston but this is this was a new things switching teams from players who didn't for so many years. Do you think it would have been somewhat similar no matter where UN or was it because it was cost. I think more because it was boss and the expectations of that team you know here was twenty years in Atlanta. Coming over. And everyone treated me incredibly well on meaningless. It wasn't that it's just was. Not being able to be myself because you don't check in until like June July and everything was different spring training was different I thought first and foremost when I was going to spring training. I thought I was being set up. Because I didn't think there was spring training site where they need to Drexel sort of oh did note two miles on the road did say it like we say it's a long way down that is now it was I was waiting for cameras to come out. It's people say we got you. But I had to learn a hold of a different way of doing things and really got to enjoy some of the guys here. Of course. Terry was phenomenal Francona to beat. So steel. And like I said I hope we set a good stubborn and byways of doing things. And I know what have been more successful. So again. So in terms of pitching for a little was a more of the rehab part of there was a via actual going out and pitch it out strictly rehab yeah. I was I was not trying to pitch five warriors must try to pitch that here. And I guess with the all that was the chances they took knowing I didn't have much time. I was trying to do some pretty pretty crazy as far as timeframe so I thought I could pull off a really did. And in hindsight you know there were some things that just didn't you know when your body doesn't feel right it was actually hurting. And yet. A massive program wasn't great and might have been great for some of that ten more years like there are. The trends are pretty centrally traded as far as what I had to offer and now. And then once I got since it you know learning might do. Limitations. I've probably a little too much pressure on myself it's again trying to be perfect weather. It just doesn't work I remember that sir in Washington. Doing so I was unlike anything you'd ever gone through on. Varitek about the amount leases are you alright listen now I sit I literally don't know where to put my legs on the rubber. And he set a lot of tennis and art are I'm afraid of me to balk was a bases loaded. And I and I specifically remember getting some kind of stance I've never been before my life and I didn't do well editing and that I settled down and did okay and kind of fell back a little bit of a group but. You know yeah. Those lessons set me up to learn so much even though detail and in my career and it didn't didn't finish aware wanted to. But it was really kind of epitomize my whole career of perseverance and overcoming. Because it when you get released which you never think you're going to. It's not a really good feeling and so I sent home for two weeks wondered if I still have enough to offer somebody in the stretch run. For the cardinals called. And I knew that was to be the perfect scenario that I decided that I wanted to face double jeopardy of show up and be bad again. But you're good you're good with the cardinals almost immediately ever was I had freedom most of figure not a mechanical flaw. Freedom known I was tidbits of this is who's to help. And all that got released really quickly and I did through bought through ball really well. They just wanna be for the Penn. But I asked him if they could just give me two starts and threw so well those two stars are what we keep starting. But there was the freedom of no and I could do the things I needed to do to be successful. And that's the first thing the training staff said to me was you do what you gotta do we understand you've been successful for a long time. That really helped you really didn't what was the conversation like with Theo when you guys when it was determined okay we're gonna. As part ways of the you know he was great still trying to figure out a way I could stay here and helpful motto of the pan. Contractually just what's gonna work to do you mean facility do what he hopes that might happen. And so I knew I said hey let's. Just who she got to do my contract was written it written in a way where it was a no brainer for what he had to do it. Of the ultimate respect for him and have this organization probably treated me what I'm most blown away. Is that they treated me like I had been here a long time even afterwards it invites and I'm like so humbled that you really. I was here for two and a half months and I didn't do much so I appreciate this flattering but. You know I was really impressed with how connected they were. To their players and former players and I really got to experience that firsthand. When you sort of since you Don and before you get to bust and you hear about playing in Boston that's different from playing in Boston and we we went through believe me town we went through a lot last year with the David Price up and everything else from your perspective. Is it that different or do guys to win with a sore this preconceived thing and then also make it more difficult on the side. Chris good question I think personality certain personalities may not work. In certain towns. And for here it's it's it's a lot different there was Atalanta Milan a second cupcakes cupcake compared to here as far as media attention and it's always things you can do or not do. And he be a great example of what I maybe sounds fair snapshot of Boston but. I minority go I know we're live I was looking for a place that almost stuffed from my suburban at the time and I drove up from spring training. My wife and I am. We were gonna see a movie takes place we parked our car when we got inside the movie theaters city pier park and it did FedEx spot you need to move their toe your car. It took all three to five minutes to gets that spot so I turned around and as I was coming up my car was already on the tow truck and it was already out. And I tried to explain the guy and he would have nothing of it you wanna hear anything that's it if you give me thirty seconds and explain. And it was to the point where I was gonna get in my car and I didn't know if it was you can told somebody when they're sitting in the car to put all my stuff was there. And and I said listen sir I have to get to Pawtucket and is. He went for you would socks. And then everything changed I was his best friend Karl was down I realized then. How much of that team an end to this city. And then I was in a different place you know and all of the unknowns. Were really really different from me and I love structure very loyal. And when I hate when they made the sign of being knowing. That I couldn't pitch but I happier I wanted to I want is so bad to give my best that they actually kind of fight back clerk. Our remember that I rumor that spring training him. I mean you were excited people are excited about the prospects of it is tough obviously senate everywhere and some. I don't think the Red Sox may we were putting pressure on and keep your putting pressure on yourself yeah they. Their whole plan was perfectly said look traditionally and historically we give us a starter goes down we need you for insurance. And we Trevor primarily legion field. In July the second half because at that time I think was the six starters right in the rotation right Daisuke and and they had to had. The previous years of somebody going down her serving time in deal. Won't cut it when I got ready everyone was going get it. So I wasn't going to be activated I totally get it bad guys are going to get and then we'll forget what led to what I got my chance of the last of what it did it. You know along the way. He really did give me I could never understand why a player we could somewhat nervous about playing a game they loved. I never understand why they have such. Pressure they could whistle or spit. I got it I got it at 12 month period of what. That was like of all of all the big moments you'd been in that was a 100%. There's two moments that beat here in Boston. In my last game syphilis. I was flash in my whole career. Talk about knowing that was going to be spells Libya and the irony of everything I take a look back in the opener grunt and 29 innings as the visitor here. This place demanded as a pitcher to beat you just flat out had to focus on an airline it was great. And I did that so quit his hometown player that I felt bad you know it's like but I remember. And striking out seven mineral my first game back with the cardinals. Which still is a franchise record which I can't believe. After two weeks of being humiliated not known if I was going to be able to be any good anymore. And then it almost ended in the playoff game with six straight strikeouts. And I think of that whole journey you know from the operating table book policy given an opportunity to do what Saint Louis gave me an opportunity finished. It was incredible sued to have them play because. I did not want my career to be taken from me and us injury. Without me at least trying to get back on the field and left for Boston about to sit in my whole industries second. Never thank them enough for forgiving me an opportunity to do that because. The 41 years old. Nine acres in the shoulder. Resonate is not good enough and I think when I saw me throw that they thought there was some potential that I could I could definitely help. Along lines of you mentioned starting bullpen has talked to Craig Kimbrel assisted part just within. Part of the conversation we have with Craig use you know that the new way of using closers. And one of the things I told them I'm Quinn Billy Wagner or Sears Billy Wagner was accuses doctor so he was it was good because he used he talked about. The difference between the ninth inning and he thinks he was brought here for the eighth inning I mean trusted for you to aren't involved. The ninth inning about how different that is in terms of how Peter's approach it and Enron where you fall in terms of this whole idea though you can bring your closer in. 73. I think the biggest thing is how sports are played with a clock for time so. Whenever you see the end of the game of Avian of the sport there's certain strategies that come and play that means different things. It's so much easier to get an at bat away in the first or second at bat in baseball game I've never met or seen anybody get the win of that ninth inning. They know there's no chance there's no time to. Rally the troops if you will. And I'll say this about whatever analytic sort whatever strategy people are trying to put together I would argue good 67%. Of people connected the last three outs or recent time. That's a difference. Now whether or not your stuff or your ability your personality. Allows you to come and go with an unstructured. Rock and roll that's item club to beat people that can do that. But if you know going in your ranges anywhere between 79 this more. You're prepared for I think anybody can do death. So is a closer. You know it's hard to get the last three outs every single time. And that guy you need fresh mentally sound confident more than any other player and your team. If you start messing with that we put the greatest closers in unsinkable situations and mixing you know we've messed with that confidence. We've known the game BM align the bases loaded nobody out unless it's game seven. I think over the course of the season if you could win the games you're supposed to win with structure. You do yourself more service and if you just bounce around treat each game like game seven and I think that's what the analytical people wanna try to be creative staff. In the seventh inning in the games online yes it is. But more times on and not if you use your best reliever invest situational guys that. How do you get the last six outs I think at the last three outs because when you put people in that position. And have never done it before it's different. Anyone can get three outs at any time in a ball game except for consistently getting the last three outs that takes. A little this special person. That is willing and willingness to fail to overcome failure and say I'm good enough about better than you have to get the last three out. It's it's almost exactly what Craig said and in you know we've been talking about it's been topic of conversation I go back to 2003. When CO try to do is you bullpen by committee. And I think that was an eye opening thing it's only do you have the horses to do it. But he taught both at the understanding where you're gonna pitch that's that's a baseball player that factors into right via look like I I don't know about an expert but I got a chance to do it I say 55 games my first year after struggling mightily in the first month. Our big management to not get rid of our veteran bullpen. They needed every side of the did. That next year it could seventeen different times in the eighth and ninth inning. It wears you down hitting just has an effect. I was still successful but at the same point where you start doing what it you if you can't trust other people do that job. That you really runs the risk of hurting your your your your guys and Vernon. The risking them that not being good at the end of the year and so I spent some time on the DL here. Disjointed of 45 saves but I realized. That up and down to them for Vernon churn and I mean I've been in five games and heroic thinking four out of five you don't have been some pretty long stretches. The adrenaline helps but at the end of the day when you're 7879. Games. And in Europe and down another 75 to a hundred times that you don't get in the games which happens a lot. That's why that's why they understand how difficult the role in his hand I would argue this. The more people that pitching game. Which is what we're doing the more opportunity for someone and I have good stuff. You know I would I would be in favor of making hybrid guys two innings at a time. And being able to you realize you're gonna have three monsters at the end of the rotation and have pulled it. Utilizing three different closers if you have to open finish two innings at a time. That you know FaceBook doesn't always work that way where you can predict how it's gonna go. Plus questions. Broadcasting. So. For Flavio Rubin members. We talk about being nervous on the mound in your being nervous broadcast of the first time you do some different when you have your opens and you're trying to come up with contents. Just trying to figure out how things go. But a guy play the same principle about treatment on myself or makes you know mistakes. And not surprisingly it's way more work never saw. But I I just trying to bring the game and lights where people call it sit there and here in their own ways and I could do that. And politely I'll save kind of know you can't this is what the game so hard. And I try to come they. Criticism that would exist as a way that I realized how hard the game once or don't comment. In any other way. John thanks so much true it's always good to see less the.