Bauman: Glavine back where he belongs
Pitcher, club move past release to reunite after retirement
The right thing, the suitable thing, the good thing happened between Tom Glavine and the Atlanta Braves.
Glavine, so long identified with this franchise and its long years of success, will return to the Braves as a special assistant to the president, Braves president John Schuerholz announced Thursday.
What Schuerholz described was a multifaceted position for Glavine, which makes all kinds of sense, since Glavine is an intelligent, directed and ultimately competent fellow. The Braves ought to get as much mileage out of Glavine as they can, and it appears that they will. In his new post, he will assist Schuerholz on various baseball and business projects, work on special assignments for general manager Frank Wren and manager Bobby Cox, as well as serve as an occasional guest on the Braves' radio and television broadcasts.
Glavine also officially announced his retirement as a pitcher after 22 seasons in the Majors. That decision was not a shock, but it did put to rest one unpleasant episode between the pitcher and the organization.
Glavine was released by the Braves last June after he was unable to convince them that he had recovered from surgeries on both his left shoulder and elbow in the previous year. Glavine had proclaimed himself ready to pitch in the Majors again after three rehabilitation starts. But the club did not agree and released him.
Now the Braves and the stylish lefty are back on the same side, which is exactly where both the pitcher and the organization should be. Glavine was with the Braves from 1987 to 2002, then spent five years with the Mets, before returning to pitch a portion of the '08 season for Atlanta.
He was a major reason for the success of the Braves, who began a record run of 14 consecutive division titles in 1991. He was on hand as Atlanta turned from a struggling team to a dominant one, and his work was a model of consistency. Greg Maddux and John Smoltz were the other two-thirds of an unbeatable trio of starters, but considered on his own merits, Glavine fashioned a career of remarkable consistency, compiling 305 victories. When the Braves, in a statement announcing Glavine's new role, termed him a "future Hall of Famer," they weren't out on a limb. Glavine has been a lock for Cooperstown for some time.
Glavine could succeed in any number of organizational roles, which is why the Braves are wise to give him a broad sampling of duties. His intelligence and analytical abilities have long been matters of public record, and his candor and forthright manner will also serve him well.
Glavine was an activist with a high public profile with the Major League Baseball Players Association during his playing career, so he has that half of the baseball labor/management equation already in hand. His finely tuned competitive instincts will no longer be taken to the mound every fifth day, those same attributes can translate into making the Braves better in whatever role the organization places him.
Tom Glavine will not be, in other words, one of those ex-players who lands a front-office job, but is essentially just so much window dressing. Glavine, a man of substance, will be given substantive tasks. It is difficult to imagine any outcome other than success for him in any role.
He could have worked anywhere in baseball, but he is where he should be. There had been a difficult breakup last summer, but all parties have moved beyond that. Tom Glavine is where he should be in the post-pitching portion of his career -- working for the Atlanta Braves.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.