For the first time in 22 years, John Smoltz will be wearing a uniform other than that of the Atlanta Braves.
01/14/2009 12:39 PM ET
John Smoltz unveils new look in Boston
Former Brave vows to be loyal to his new team
Smoltz was officially introduced as the newest Red Sox player on Tuesday.
"Words can't describe -- and I hope you don't expect me to say all the right words, because this has been an incredible week -- but I'm going to try to," Smoltz told the Boston Globe. "What you get is a guy who loves to put on the uniform and loves to compete. I'm excited to be here. This city is surrounded by a ton of history and a ton of players and a ton of fans. I'm as determined and I'm as focused as I have ever been. ... To speak to how loyal I am, you must know, I am a [Detroit] Lions fan. So that speaks to my loyalty. I'm going to be pretty loyal to this uniform."
General manager Theo Epstein said it was a big day for Boston to be able to unveil Smoltz.
"It's a very significant day for the Red Sox," Epstein said. "To be able to add someone of this caliber and his accomplishment, and his talent most importantly -- we look for him to make a huge impact on the organization."
Though he is coming off shoulder surgery, Smoltz was impressive in his workout with the Red Sox and is slated to pitch in the starting rotation.
Lowe becomes instant ace for Braves: The Braves moved quickly to replace John Smoltz in their rotation by reaching an agreement with Derek Lowe on a four-year deal. Lowe becomes the Braves' ace of the staff.
"You put him on this staff, he's a definite No. 1," Chipper Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I think with his age and his experience, that's the spot you want him. You want him leading your staff because he's been around the longest and he's probably been the most proven."
Shoppach ready to play: Kelly Shoppach, who reached agreement on a one-year deal with the Indians, believes playing time is something that will work itself out on the field.
"I won't ask," Shoppach told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It's just who I am. If they want me to be a backup, fine. If they want me to start, fine. When I came over here from Boston three years ago, one of the reasons I was included is so they could have someone in case something happened to Victor [Martinez].
"I couldn't ask for a better teammate than Victor. I'm a better player for being his backup for two years. He's helped me a lot. We've made each other better."
Rollins arrived early to see Henderson: Jimmy Rollins idolized Hall-of-Fame inductee Rickey Henderson while growing up in Oakland.
"He helped change the game," Rollins told the Philadelphia Daily News. "He was the whole entertainment package. He was not just a ballplayer; he was the kind of player you'd pay to watch.
"I liked to get to the games early to watch him. That was the best part. Don't get me wrong -- the game was great, too, but my favorite part was to watch him stretch. He didn't run that much, but he was stretching all the time. And he had those fluorescent green batting gloves. All that was entertainment. You just looked at him and said, 'That guy is special.'"
Park declines offer to pitch in WBC: After signing with the Philadelphia Phillies to compete for a job in their starting rotation, Chan Ho Park has announced he will not play for his native South Korea in the World Baseball Classic.
"I'm very sorry to my fans and the people who wanted me to play in the [Classic]," Park, who was speaking at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, and briefly left the podium after breaking into tears, was quoted as saying by MLB.com. "I won't be playing for the national team any more.
"As I'm going to the Phillies, I will do my best there to achieve my goal of becoming a starter."
Mientkiewicz's plans still up in the air: Free agent Doug Mientkiewicz concedes he probably isn't part of the Pirates plans this season but intends to live up to his promise to let them match any offer he might receive.
"I gave them my word, so I have to [tell them]," Mientkiewicz told MLB.com. "But I think from the way the winter has been handled, I think their answer to me is a pretty definitive answer. It's probably a 'Thanks but no thanks.'
"That being said, am I open still to Pittsburgh? Yeah, sure," he continued. "But in my heart, I'm moving on."
Guillen ready to move to the outfield: Carlos Guillen, who is moving to the outfield for the 2009 season, says he's feeling healthy and is ready to roll.
"I'm feeling good," Guillen told MLB.com. "I'm doing workouts almost every day."
Valverde signs one-year deal with Astros: The Houston Astros and Jose Valverde have agreed to a one-year contract. Valverde, who can be a free agent at the end of the season, was 6-3 with a league-leading and club record-tying 44 saves to go along with a 3.38 ERA.
"It's a marketplace deal," Astros general manager Ed Wade told the Houston Chronicle. "It's nice to get a deal done early in the process before the filing date [Thursday] and the exchange of numbers. After going through last year's arbitration hearing, I think everybody is happy to put the economic side of Jose's situation behind us."
Hardy ready to make his mark at shortstop: J.J. Hardy agreed to a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. Hardy hit .283 with 24 home runs and 74 RBIs last season. His home run total ranked second among National League shortstops and his RBI total ranked third.
"I definitely want to be the Brewers' shortstop. I don't think I've done anything to play myself off the position," Hardy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's great to get the contract done early. Now I can just concentrate on getting ready to play."
Kapler brings another bat to Rays: Tampa Bay added another bat to its bench by signing Gabe Kapler to a one-year deal.
Kapler hit .301 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs for Milwaukee last season in part-time duty and will likely platoon with left-handed hitter Gabe Gross in right field this season. Kapler hit .364 with a 1.001 OPS against left-handers last season.
"It's a great opportunity for me to perform in Tampa, and I expect to take advantage of that opportunity," Kapler told the St. Petersburg Times. "I set my ceiling pretty high. ... I expect to build on what I did last year and be better than I was."
Redding willing to start or relieve for Mets: The New York Mets and Tim Redding agreed to a one-year deal, giving the Mets a pitcher who can be either a starter or reliever.
Redding was 10-11 with a 4.95 ERA in 33 starts for Washington last year, but has also pitched in relief during his career.
"If I'm in competition with somebody for a particular numbered spot, then so be it," Redding told Newsday. "I'm just going to go out there and get myself ready. If it's as a starter, if it's as a reliever, it doesn't matter to me. The important thing is I'm here to compete, I'm here to win and I'm excited about being here. I just want to be here and help this team get to the promised land."
Kenshin ready to take advantage of deal with Braves: The Braves signed Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami to a three-year contract. Kawakami's English is limited but, for his introduction to this country, he learned a Southern expression.
"Hello, my name is Kenshin Kawakami -- y'all can call me Kenshin," Kawakami told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I want to play the highest level of baseball," the 33-year old said through a translator. "You only get to play professional baseball once in your life. This is the time for me."
Billingsley ready to return to solid footing: The year 2008 did not end so well for Chad Billingsley. First, he suffered a big defeat in the NLCS to the eventual World Champion Phillies. Then, he slipped on his back porch and broke a bone in his left leg because he went out to admire the snow while wearing sandals.
"Yeah, sandals, Billingsley told the Los Angeles Times. "It was kind of stupid."
To make up for it, Billingsley is getting ready to arrive at Spring Training early to get a head start on his teammates for 2009.
"I just really want to get back on the mound and get back to winning," Billingsley says.
Carpenter ready for a healthy start: With his arm feeling good, Chris Carpenter is set to prepare for this season just like any other -- as though he's healthy and going to stay that way.
"I just started playing catch, which is what I normally do at this time of the year, and then I get on a mound at around the beginning of February," Carpenter told the Boston Globe. "That's my plan right now.
"After two very frustrating and miserable years, I just want to feel healthy again. I feel, if my arm and elbow are fine, I'll be able to do what I've always done."
-- Red Line Editorial