Dan Smith Interview

BravesCenter's Bill Shanks talks with Dan Smith, a left-handed reliever that went 5-4 in 2005 between Rome and Myrtle Beach. The non-drafted free agent signed out of Ft. Myers, Florida in 2003 had a combined ERA of 2.27 in his 44 games with 11 saves. He also allowed only 57 hits in 71.1 innings, 18 runs, 35 walks, and 87 strikeouts.

SHANKS: Tell me how you were signed.
SMITH: Going into my senior year in high school, which was 2001, I had shoulder surgery. I took almost two years off and worked in construction. I didn't do anything (in baseball). Then like two months before the short season was started I started throwing again. I went to a workout with an old coach of mine. There was a Braves scout there, George Martin. Then he told me to come to a pre-draft workout, and that's where I got signed.

SHANKS: So you didn't pitch all your senior season?
SMITH: Right.

SHANKS: Were you a prospect going into your senior year?
SMITH: There were a bunch of teams looking at me. The Diamondbacks, Reds, and Rockies.

SHANKS: What were you being told going into that senior year about where you might be drafted?
SMITH: All of them were in the top ten rounds. That's what they were telling me. It all depended on what I did my senior year.

SHANKS: So what kind of shoulder surgery was it?
SMITH: They scoped my shoulder. I had an impingement, where the bone grew into my rotator cuff. They had to shave the end of my shoulder bone.

SHANKS: So when you came to the Braves, you became a reliever. How has that transition gone?
SMITH: I didn't mind. The first year I had to get used to sitting in the bullpen down there for five and seven innings in Orlando. Once I got used to it, it was fine.

SHANKS: What all do you throw?
SMITH: Fastball, curveball, and changeup. Fastball is usually 88-91.

SHANKS: So how are you getting all these strikeouts? What's your strikeout pitch?
SMITH: To righties, it's a changeup.

SHANKS: Can you feel yourself getting better?
SMITH: Everyday. Every time I get on the mound I feel stronger and more composed, more comfortable every time out.

SHANKS: How have you improved?
SMITH: Consistency. Just more inning. This is the most I've thrown in five, six years.

SHANKS: The development of relievers gets overlooked a lot. But you see Boyer and McBride coming up, and the Braves really developed them. How does that make you feel?
SMITH: Left-handed relievers - everybody needs them. So I'm pumped about that. And I love it - I love coming in with the game on the line.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. He can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com.

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