May 20, 2009 - South Atlantic League (SAL) - Greenville Drive
Greenville, S.C. - After spending 20 seasons with the Atlanta Braves, right-handed pitcher John Smoltz signed with the Boston Red Sox on January 13, 2009. His comeback to the Major Leagues will begin Thursday in a Greenville Drive uniform as he makes his first rehab start in Augusta versus the GreenJackets.
An 8-time All-Star and winner of the 1996 National League Cy Young Award, Smoltz owns a 210-147 career record with 154 saves and a 3.26 ERA in 708 games, 466 as a starter. Smoltz was limited to just six games/five starts a year ago after spending three separate stints on the disabled list. His 2008 season officially came to a close when he had surgery to repair a torn labrum on June 10th.
A surefire Hall of Fame candidate, Smoltz is one of seven hurlers in Major League history to spend 20 or more seasons with a single club, joining the White Sox\' Ted Lyons (21) and Red Faber (20), the Indians\' Mel Harder (20), the Senators\' Walter Johnson (21), and the Braves\' Phil Niekro (21) and Warren Spahn (20).
During his career, Smotlz has served as a starter and a closer, and is the only pitcher in Major League history to collect at least 200 wins and 150 saves. Dennis Eckersley is the only other pitcher with at least 150 wins and 150 saves. In addition, the 42-year-old is one of eight pitchers ever to record at least 40 saves in three or more consecutive seasons, doing so from 2002-04.
Smoltz ranks 16th in Major League history with 3,011 strikeouts, and is 3rd among active pitchers behind Randy Johnson (4,789) and Pedro Martinez (3,117).
In addition to winning the Cy Young Award in 1996, he was also named The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year for that season. Smoltz has also finished among the top 10 in NL Cy Young Award voting five times in his career. In 2002, his first season as a full-time closer, Smoltz took home the NL Rolaids Relief Award after leading the majors with 55 saves in 59 opportunities.
Should Smoltz return home with the Drive after their eight-game road trip, it would not be to unfamiliar territory. He made rehab stints with the Greenville Braves in 1998, 1999, and 2001, appearing in eight games, five as a starter. During his time with the G-Braves, Smoltz was 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA (6 ER/24.0 IP), 29 strikeouts, and four base on balls.
The Drive return home to Fluor Field on Thursday, May 28th with first pitch against the Charleston RiverDogs at 7 PM. For more information regarding single-game tickets, ticket plans, luxury accommodations, and group outings call the Drive at (864) 240-4500 or visit www.greenvilledrive.com.