John Smoltz wants a mulligan. In his much
anticipated debut as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Smoltz stumbled
out of the starting gate. He hit the second batter he faced and gave up
four runs in the first inning. But after that less-than-spectacular
inning, Smoltz was able to settle down, pitching four more frames and
giving up one run on three hits with four strike outs after the first.
Is there cause for worry in Red Sox Nation? No.
Smoltz is a fierce competitor. This is the guy who took up golf and can now hang with Tiger Woods
on the course. This is the guy who gets incredibly animated over a game
of cribbage in the clubhouse. Smoltz does not like to lose.
Smoltz said he had similar results when he moved from a starter to a
closer, and then five years later when he went back to being a starter.
Call it nerves, call it shaking the rust off, call it whatever you
want. Both times he went on to have great seasons in those roles.
The telling sign that he isn’t the guy we saw in the first inning is
how he seemed to get stronger and more confident as the game
progressed. He finished his day with a bang, striking out the side in
order in the fifth. As much as his debuet was overhyped and is likely
to be scrutinized, I look forward to seeing his next outing Tuesday in
Baltimore. Let the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer get a few starts
under his belt, and then we can start to analyze his latest reinvention
of John Smoltz.