Smoltz refuses assignment to minors

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Designated for assignment by the Red Sox last week, John Smoltz has refused a demotion to the minors. That basically ends his career in Boston, as the Red Sox now must either trade or release the 42-year-old veteran, who reportedly passed through waivers unclaimed yesterday.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com notes that a trade could prove difficult because of the incentives in Smoltz’s contract, so interested teams such as the Cardinals or Dodgers may wait to pursue him until the Red Sox cut him loose. Smoltz posted an ugly 8.32 ERA in eight starts with the Red Sox, but I’m still convinced that he can get big-league hitters out and for now at least it sounds like he wants to continue pitching.
Everyone teed off on his fastball, but the pitch still clocked in at an average of 91.3 miles per hour and Smoltz’s slider remained extremely tough to hit. He also had a solid 33/9 K/BB ratio in 40 innings and held right-handed batters to .232/.259/.390 in 85 plate appearances, all of which suggests that he still has a little gas left in the tank. A move back to the bullpen might be best for Smoltz, who seemed to fall apart after the first couple innings.
Incidentally, you can watch a 24-year-old Smoltz pitch against Jack Morris in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series right now on MLB Network. I have a feeling it’ll be a decent game.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.