In the midst of a cold New England winter, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein took a gamble by signing the 20-year veteran John Smoltz, who was coming off of major shoulder surgery on his then-41-year-old arm.
Now, seven months later, Epstein flew from Boston to New York to make the difficult decision to cut Smoltz, a future Hall of Fame pitcher, just one day after the righty was lit up in his fourth straight start.
“It’s never and easy decision to designate any player, especially someone with his resume and his future Hall of Fame status,” Epstein told NESN’s Heidi Watney on Friday afternoon. “It wasn’t an easy day for the organization. We just felt we had to try something different given what’s transpired.
“We gave him a lot to process today,” Epstein added. “We asked him to go home and remove himself from the situation. This designation mechanism gives us some time to give him a proper assignment. John’s not a quitter — that’s one thing he’s not. He woke up today thinking how he could help the Red Sox. That said, he told me he’s a realist and he knows that the results weren’t there. I think he took it with mixed emotions and he’s now looking forward.”