I caught up with Braves pitcher John Smoltz in the clubhouse at Champion stadium last week. John was in between workouts and was gracious enough to answer all of my questions. He's one of these guys who has been around long enough to know how interviews go. He took his time answering questions while he patiently sat in his locker. I really relished the opportunity to once again talk with John -- his demeanor makes him easy to talk to (even though he's sort of larger than life). I hope you enjoy this, the first in my series of 2008 Spring Training Interviews.
Martin Gandy: How was your off-season?
John Smoltz: My off-season was a very interesting one with a lot of challenges, but it ultimately was a good one.
MG: Do you pay attention to or watch the moves the club makes in the off-season, and how did you feel about those moves?
JS: I feel good about our moves. Everyone's made some moves to improve in our division, and I think our moves were as good as they could have been. We addressed them in the off-season instead of a trade here or there at the All-Star break or shortly after; I live what we've done.
MG: Of the teams you've seen over the years since you've been a Brave, how would you compare this one to those teams?
JS: Well, it has the deepest rotation than we've had in a long time, and so comparisons will have to be made based on how we go out and produce; but it has on paper the deepest staff we've ever had.
MG: Are you excited to have the guy in the locker next to you [Tom Glavine] back?
JS: Yeah, you know it's like he never left and certainly he's going to help us win. You know when he was here for 14, or how ever many years it was, we were in the playoffs so hopefully we can continue his string while he's been here.
MG: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher?
JS: I think I'm one guy who can adapt to many different situations both physically and mentally and be able to get a guy out, and figure a way to get a guy out.
MG: Do you find yourself, as you're getting older, trying to reinvent yourself or change yourself?
JS: No, I'm still trying to upgrade, I still have -- I believe -- the ability to upgrade, the ability to make pitches when I have to, and certainly I still think I can get better.
MG: Are you working on any of that changing or getting better on the back fields in the early days while doing your own spring training regimen?
JS: I'm working on some pitches that are going to help me take some stress off the rest of the year, and hopefully make me and us a better team for it.
MG: Where did you get that idea?
JS: Well, I've been wanting to do it for years, but this is the best time and opportunity to do it. I made some improvements last year on it and I want to build on it.
MG: Are you teaching yourself these pitches, or is anyone else helping you learn these new pitches?
JS: No, I'm pretty much working on them. I know that I've had a lot of experience in how to throw certain pitches -- just have to execute them over and over again to feel confident under the gun.
MG: Thanks a lot for your time, I appreciate it.
JS: You got it.
Photo of John Smoltz courtesy of Chip Jett.