A tip of the cap to Glavine
Tom Glavine says that he’ll wait at least two weeks before determining if he’ll ever pitch again. But as he spoke yesterday afternoon, it was hard to ignore the belief that he seemingly already knows his fate.
In fact, I’m pretty sure he had a pretty good idea after he continued to feel some left shoulder discomfort while throwing his warmup pitches before the third inning of Sunday’s Minor League rehab start in Mississippi. He chose to wait until Monday to discuss what had happened and how he was feeling.
This uncharacteristic decision made by one of the most accommodating athletes I’ve ever covered immediately raised red flags. As for the white flag, you could see it waving in the distance yesterday as Glavine spoke about how he currently considers the glass to be half-empty as opposed to half-full.
Throughout his career, which has included 305 wins and 4413 1/3 innings, Glavine has been an optimistic warrior who has battled through regular shoulder discomfort and other ailments that he’s never revealed.
Glavine was miserable while experiencing his first three career trips to the disabled list last year. Still his fighting spirit provided him incentive to attempt to spend one more healthy year in the Majors.
But for the first time in his career, Glavine is facing the reality that he’s encountered a fight that he can’t win.
“This shoulder has logged a lot of innings,” Glavine said Tuesday. “Sooner or later, it’s going to tell me I can’t do this anymore. I hope this is not what it’s trying to tell me. But I’m prepared if it is.”
If Glavine’s shoulder has indeed reached its physical limitations, we’ll all take time to celebrate the career of the fourth-winningest left-hander in Major League history. We’ll all remember his two Cy Young Awards and his one-hit gem that clinched the 1995 World Series.
But most importantly, we should never forget that fighting spirit that he carried to the mound. If he has indeed thrown his final pitch, I’ll never forget the grit he showed while limiting the Rockies to three hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings on April 7 of last year.
They announced the gametime temperature to be 41 degrees and by the time the third inning arrived you had gained the sense that the Coors Field concessionaires didn’t truly need to line their Silver Bullets in ice.
Yet during what was likely the last start that he’ll ever make without any concerning aches or pains, Glavine once again showed the grit and competitive nature that Greg Maddux recognized during his own retirement speech in December.
“One of the biggest things I learned pitching with Glavine was to realize you don’t have to be 100 percent to win,” Maddux said. “You have to take the ball and you have to go out there. That’s what he taught me.
“Sometimes it’s really easy to say, ‘I need another day or two.’ But in Atlanta, we pitched. Tommy led the way with that. He showed everybody that if you go out there, if you could throw the ball over the plate, you had a chance to win, no matter how bad you felt.”
When it does indeed come time for Glavine to announce his retirement, he’ll be showered with compliments. But none will be more fitting than the one provided by Maddux.
Home Sweet Home: Whatever happens, Glavine will have the comfort of making his decision while being surrounded by his family and the organization that watched develop into one of the game’s legends.
We saw the love of hometown fans when Ken Griffey, Jr. was showered with cheers when he came to plate for the first time in Seattle this year.
On the flip side, this week we’ve also witnessed how an aging legendary figure will be treated when he’s forced to continue playing in a new environment. Garret Anderson’s Atlanta debut turned ugly last night when after dropping two foul balls, he found himself hearing boos from some Braves fans.
Had Anderson still been playing in front of the same Angels fans, who had followed him for the past 14 years, he obviously wouldn’t have received the same treatment.
But this isn’t a matter of fair or unfair. It’s simply the reality that a 36-year-old outfielder has to face while introducing himself to a fan base that couldn’t care less what he’s done over the course of the past two decades in southern California.
Hanson Update: Javier Vazquez wasn’t the only Braves pitcher who didn’t get much run support last night. Tommy Hanson suffered his first loss while limiting Durham to three hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings of Triple-A Gwinnett’s 1-0 loss.
Through his first two starts for Gwinnett, Hanson has worked 10 innings, allowed one run, registered 17 strikeouts and issued just four walks. I think it’s pretty safe to assume we’ll see the big redhead in Atlanta some time in May.
As mentioned yesterday, it probably won’t be long until Kris Medlen also makes his way to Atlanta to fortify the bullpen. I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’ll just say that the young right-hander is off to a good start during this afternoon’s start against Durham.
You can follow Medlen’s progress today on Gameday.
Also forgot to mention you can now follow me on Twitter @mlbbravesscribe