NEW YORK (AP) — John Smoltz is embarking on a career as an analyst for Turner Broadcasting and the MLB Network, although he's not quite ready to say he's thrown his final major league pitch.
"I know the question comes up: Does that mean you retired?" the 42-year-old Smoltz said Tuesday. "Officially no. But in my life when I make a decision about something and I say something, my whole character is to live by it. At this point I'm not officially prepared to say I'm done. But that may not mean anything to the degree that makes me play either."
Smoltz had right shoulder surgery and missed more than a year before Boston activated him last June. He went 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA in eight starts, and the Red Sox released him in August. He then signed with St. Louis and was 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts.
He turns 43 on May 15, and he spent the offseason playing basketball three times a week and preparing for what would be a 22nd big league season. With opening day less than a month away, he remains unsigned and says he's leaning toward retirement. He thinks the odds are against him signing with a team during the season.
"Obviously, it was a slow offseason free-agent wise. Certain people derived their conclusions about me, and so be it. Fine," he said, speaking between swings while playing golf. "It didn't stop me from working out and doing the things that I love to do. Today not having a baseball job doesn't bother me one bit."
Smoltz has 213 wins and 154 saves, spending 20 seasons with Atlanta. An eight-time All-Star, he won the NL Cy Young Award in 1996.
Looking back, he said he made mistakes with the Red Sox.
"I pressed really hard," he said. "The results ... mattered a little bit too much to me instead of the long-range plan of getting in position to pitch at the level that I thought I could."
He will work on national telecasts on TBS and Braves' games on Peachtree TV in Atlanta and will be part of the postseason coverage. For the MLB Network, he'll announce both games and in the studio starting on April 5.
Smoltz was a guest analyst for TBS during the 2007 playoffs and broadcast games for Peachtree TV and TBS following shoulder surgery in 2008.
"In my career I used to think that I could map out what I wanted to do. Obviously, I had some U-turns and some obstacles, and overcame most of them," he said. "I stopped mapping it out a while ago, although I still have dreams and aspirations of one day playing in the Senior PGA. The one thing I knew in my life: When I walk from the game, there won't be a tear, a regret, there won't be any of that."
Coaching doesn't appeal to him. He doesn't think he has the right personality or philosophy.
"It's just not for me," he said.
NOTES: Ernie Johnson Jr., a TNT NBA and golf broadcaster, also will call baseball for Peachtree TV. He broadcast Braves games with his father, Ernie Johnson Sr., on SportSouth from 1993-96 and has done occasional Braves telecasts in recent years. Dick Stockton and Brian Anderson are also TBS baseball play-by-play announcers. Chip Caray was dropped after the postseason and signed with Fox Sports South. Ron Darling and Buck Martinez return as analysts; and Dennis Eckersley and David Wells will work occasional games and be studio analysts during the postseason along with Cal Ripken Jr., who also will be on the All-Star selection show.