John Smoltz joined 101ESPN on Wednesday to talk about Chris Carpenter, who he says is the most respected man in the Cardinals clubhouse. Smoltz pitched for both the Braves, Red Sox and Cardinals during his well-respected 21 year career and now provides baseball analysis for MLB Network and TBS. Here are the highlights:

  • HIS INITIAL REACTION TO CARP’S SEASON ENDING ANNOUNCEMENT: “The guy is a phenomenal pitcher and who knows what kind of pitcher he could have been had some of these setbacks not occured. But he battled back, I don’t know what he thinks but for me getting back on the field was one of the most rewarding things I was ever able to do, obviously finishing it in St. Louis was phenomenal. But I think for him, to battle back last year, to get back on the field, had to be in some ways not only a huge lift to the team but a huge gratifying experience for a guy that has worked so hard.”
  • ON THE FEAR OF LIFE AFTER BASEBALL: “For me, it was a unique situation. The surgery that did me in obviously was my shoulder. But I had wanted so bad to work, to give it one more shot, nothing more than to get on the field. I was perfectly content with the future of what was going to take place after that. It would have probably been very difficult to not at least try, and to be given that chance. But I can tell you safely that I have walked away and have not picked up a ball and have no desire to pick up a ball…you can’t replace the competition, you can’t replace the moment…”
  • ON CHRIS CARPENTER IN THE CLUBHOUSE: “He is one of those rare breeds, a tremendous, tremendous competitor. I mean fierce to the point where you may not want to be around him when he is competing but then you loved being around him when he didn’t. That’s what the Cardinals clubhouse seemed to be at least from my experience, a bunch of guys that loved competing, rallied around one another, but allowed it to have fun as well.”
  • SPECULATION ON CARP’S CHANCES OF RETURNING: “I think the one thing that I can say with no evidence whatsoever is the fact that he didn’t quite come out and say ‘you know, this is it’, leaves room for maybe a shorter span, a lesser workload, might help the situation.”
  • ON WHAT THE CARDS SHOULD DO ABOUT KYLE LOHSE: “Well I’m sure if you’re in the Boras camp that’s what you’re banking on (re-signing Lohse). The reason you’re this far out in the free agent market and the reason it hasn’t worked is because you’re banking on certain things to happen to give you more leverage…Kyle Lohse is a quality, quality pitcher and the one dangerous game to play in this business is putting him in the one or two or three slot and seeing where he fits on a certain team, but you add Kyle Lohse to any staff and you’re going to get a much better staff. Obviously he had a great year last year. Sometimes perception is not matched up with the quiet intensity that Kyle Lohse has. He doesn’t awe you with strikeout stuff or stuff that gets into the 90s, he just gets outs.”
  • ON THE WEAR AND TEAR OF BEING A MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER: “If I had to be paid a billion dollars to go pitch another season in baseball, it would take me a long time to get to that point. Don’t even know if I could get to that point…I think age is number, but I’m more impressed with guys who keep themselves in a physical shape that allows them to get right after it. And Chris Carpenter is a beast when it comes to being in shape.  And again, the motor that certain guys have can supersede a younger player who has all the physical and age requirements but necessarily can’t match up the intangibles…I think you got to look at his ability to be physically athletic and in shape and not be so consumed with the number of years that he has on him.”
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