Smoltz Not Yet Retired, but Coming to TV Broadcast Near You
In a flurry of press releases, the soon-to-be 43-year-old was announced as the newest member of broadcast teams at the MLB Network, TBS and Peachtree TV. Smoltz will serve as a studio and game analyst for MLB and do color for TBS's Sunday national broadcasts and Peachtree TV's Braves telecasts.
You would think that laundry list of broadcast commitments, which will begin with him in MLB Network's studios April 5 for Opening Day coverage, would indicate his 22-year big-league career is over. But even though Smoltz said it's fair to characterize him as "leaning" toward retirement, he isn't quite ready to take the plunge.
"I'm just not prepared officially to say my playing days are over," Smoltz said on an afternoon conference call.
He added that he wouldn't completely close the door on a return to the mound until he feels absolutely committed to retirement. When it was pointed out that leaving himself in out will inevitably lead to speculation about a potential return to help a contender later this summer, Smoltz said he understood. But he also said potential suitors shouldn't necessarily count on him stepping out of the broadcast booth to save the day.
"Right now the odds are not very high" that he would make a midseason return, he said. "But it's not totally closed, either."
Smoltz made 15 starts last season for the Red Sox (2-5, 8.32 ERA) and Cardinals (1-3, 4.26) after undergoing shoulder surgery in June 2008. There had been some recent speculation about Smoltz as a potential answer to the Twins' closer vacancy in the wake of Joe Nathan's injury, but apparently it was nothing more than that. Smoltz hasn't pitched out of the bullpen full-time since 2004.
Obviously, Smoltz's results from last season weren't in line with the stellar numbers he posted throughout his career, but he said he has no regrets about going out like that, if that's what indeed happens.
"I'm not disappointed at all," he said. "I literally am thrilled. I'm at peace with everything that's going on."
If this is the end for Smoltz, he'll have wrapped up one of the most uniquely successful careers in major league history. Dominant as both a starter and a reliever, he led the league in wins a decade apart -- in 1996 and 2006 -- while in between finding time to pace the majors in saves in 2002. He won the Cy Young Award as a starter in '96 and finished third in the voting as a reliever in '02.
His 41 postseason appearances, spanning from 1991 to 2009, saw him go 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA. His win total is second all-time, and his 199 playoff strikeouts are the most in history.
A Cooperstown induction is a given for Smoltz, and unless he bails out of the broadcast booth at some point this year, he should be able to make his reservations for July of 2015.