The 42-year-old right-hander said he has zero regrets
after signing with the team the Dodgers swept in the division series. The St.
Louis Cardinals plugged Smoltz into their rotation and are considering bringing
him back with a one-year deal that could allow the pitcher to exit with a season
that lives up to a career destined for the Hall of Fame.
"St. Louis was just a better personal fit for me," Smoltz
said. "At the time Los Angeles had a bigger stronghold on the playoffs, but I
saw what St. Louis was putting together. It was a lot of fun to be a part of.
One more run, gosh, that would be great."
The Cardinals believe Smoltz has plenty left.
"He definitely wants to pitch," manager Tony La Russa
said. "I definitely think he can pitch. It's going to be a matter of economics
and you never get everything you want, but I speak personally that there's a lot
to the organizational view that John Smoltz was impressive."
Smoltz figures he'll be on the back burner at the start
of free agency while the big-ticket players like Matt Holliday grab the
headlines. Smoltz was way on the back burner last offseason while recuperating
from shoulder surgery, getting a $5.5 million contract with the Red Sox in
Certainly, the Cardinals have more pressing matters. They
want to sign Holliday, who cost the franchise three top prospects, to a
long-term contract, and are negotiating an extension for two-time NL MVP Albert
But if general manager John Mozeliak calls soon, Smoltz
said he won't need a lot of persuading.
"This would be a great fit," he said. "This would be a
scenario that wouldn't take too many minutes to make a decision."
Smoltz is the only pitcher in major league history to
reach 200 victories and 150 saves. He turned back the clock with the Cardinals
the last month and a half of the season, winning only once in seven starts but
more importantly recapturing his mechanics after a disastrous stint with the Red
Smoltz had a horrid 8.32 ERA with Boston that led to his
release. He nearly halved that number with St. Louis, posting a 4.26 ERA with
four quality starts, and had five strikeouts in two innings in his lone
Coming off shoulder surgery that postponed his 2009
debut to late June, Smoltz is hoping to establish himself from opening day
instead of playing, in his words, a game of catchup. Barring a setback, and if
the price is right, Smoltz could challenge for a spot in a St. Louis rotation
that could have two openings.
None of his starts with the Cardinals lasted longer than
six innings, but Smoltz said "I'm not just a six-inning guy." His days of
throwing 95 mph consistently are gone, but he looks forward to using more than
two decades of experience to get the job done in what he describes as "paint,
cut and spin."
"I know exactly what I can do and I'm going to dominate
that way," he said.
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