February 22nd, 2009 18:56 EST
Glavine Extends his 2nd Time in Atlanta to Another Year
Always the weathered southpaw, Tom Glavine has seen his Major League days come full circle and has the hallmark of 305 wins, most for any active pitcher, to show for it. Glavine started his career with the Atlanta in 1987 as a 2nd round pick in 1984 draft. In his 1st full season in 1988, Glavine posted a dismal 7-17 record: unbecoming of the talents that lied furtive in the 22-year-old`s lively arm. After 22 years including 2 Cy Young Awards, 2 World Series, and 10 All Star game appearances, Glavine should be looking for his name and face emblazoned on bronze in upstate New York 5 years after he retires.
Glavine left Atlanta after the 2002 season and had 5 hit-or-miss seasons with the Mets where he finally won his 300th game in 2007.
Once the Mets let him go in the off-season, Atlanta pounced on his contract and signed to a 1 year deal for 8 million dollars. The left-handed veteran dealt with a partially torn tendon in his left elbow midway through 2008 which hindered him to only 13 starts, a pitiful 2-4 record, and a 5.54 ERA. Before the `08 season came to an end, Glavine had Tommy John surgery on his elbow while receiving some cleaning on his left shoulder at the same time.
Since the year ended, Glavine has passed his physicals with flying colors and even admitted to feeling better than he`s had in years, though he still has some rehab treatments left to go.
Atlanta had chosen to pursue re-signing Glavine to a 1 year extension, but with their recent potential pickup Ken Griffey returning to Seattle, they couldn`t expect a done deal until the contracts were in hand.
On Friday, Glavine signed to a 1 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Braves with an additional 3.5 million earned provided if he`s able to stay on the active roster. He`ll net 1 million of the conditional money once he`s put on the active list, 1.25 million will be earned when he remains active for 30 days, and the other 1.25 for when his time on the active roster stretches to 90 days.
Unlike years past where Glavine had occupied one of the top 3 spots in the starting rotation with the Mets and Braves, he will be designated as the number 5 starter. In the number 5 hole, he will, on occasion, be skipped in favor of allowing the other pitchers in the rotation more starts. Though Tom`s recent injury was the 1st in his 22 year career, the decision hinged partially on the group of pitching aces in the Braves` organization. But mostly it concerned his age and his injury. Glavine will be turning 43 in March, while most of his peers in the rotation are half that in years. As the #5 guy, he will receive additional rest should his arm need it.
The 4 ahead of him that the Braves` are banking on to take them to the postseason once more are Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vasquez, and Kenshin Kawakami. But now that Glavine`s plugging the last gap in the rotation, Braves` young starting prospect Tommy Hanson will probably spend much of this year in double and triple-A ball. Withstanding, Bobby Cox, the team`s manager, said they didn`t want a man who hasn`t played outside single-A ball to jump to the ultimate level so soon even if he is considered their future #1 pitcher.
The concession met to Glavine`s relief in a statement before sports reporters shortly after signing the extension to stay put.
I don`t necessarily want to be the guy who has to pitch 220 innings and win every time he goes to the mound. I`m looking forward to this stage of my career where I don`t have to deal with that kind of pressure and can be more of a complement to our rotation." And regarding his less than stellar outing last year: I had a sense of unfinished business. I didn`t want my career to end the way it did last year."
My only goal this year is to be healthy. In my prime, that meant winning 20 games. Where I am now, maybe it`s winning 10 or 15. I don`t know what the number is. But if I stay healthy, go out there every 5 days, those numbers will take care of themselves and I`ll have a successful season, " Tom added further to reporters on Friday.
While Tom undergoes final rehab assignment in Atlanta, Braves` are scheduled to begin spring training at their Walt Disney World complex where Glavine will join them at the start of March.
News of the veteran ace`s re-signing spread fervidly through the clubhouse. Many of his team mates, including outfielder Jeff Francoeur, had flattering words about the seasoned lefty.
He`s a Hall of Fame guy who knows how to pitch. I think he`s still got 13 or 14 years in him."
While the Braves` front office wasn`t counting on acquiring him, there was little doubt Glavine would land anywhere else considering how he much he wanted to finish his career in Atlanta. Not to mention, he felt that last year would`ve been a terrible bookend to his career and strived to end his playing days on a high note.
To add to his image, Glavine agreed to defer some of the additional potential bonuses Atlanta was willing to dole out for him, for Atlanta to pursue a power hitting outfielder in the market which they haven`t yet signed. The void Andruw Jones left when he left for the Dodgers after 2007 became a liability early on last season for the Braves who were out of playoff contention by August.