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Smoltz gives thumbs down to Congressional bid

Sometimes sports news isn’t on the sports pages. So it was in Atlanta this past weekend.

John Smoltz (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)While the eyes of baseball watchers are fixed on Florida and Arizona as the annual fight by too many players for too few jobs heats up in spring training, pitcher John Smoltz remains at home, without a professional contract for the first time in almost a quarter-century.

The big story of the weekend was the rumor that the 42-year-old’s next job might not be as a baseball pitcher for hire, but instead as a United States Congressman.

Active in Georgia Republican causes, Smoltz immediately surfaced as a person likely to be approached to consider replacing retiring U.S. Representative John Linder. The 67-year-old, nine-term Congressman made a surprise announcement on Saturday that he will not be running again in 2010.

Contenders will need to make their decisions relatively quickly, as a July primary looms and Democrats are already mobilized for a run at the seat, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Smoltz has appeal compared to other possible entrants into the race due to his name recognition, past political work and financial status.

The professional athlete Smoltz continues to work out and has neither said he will retire from baseball nor that he will wait until mid-season to sign, such as other veterans like Pedro Martinez have done in recent seasons.

In other words, at this point, Smoltz’ future plans in baseball are uncertain.

A report from the Chattanoogan in Tennessee indicated that Smoltz’ initial reaction when learning of Linder’s retirement and his name being mentioned as a successor was one of surprise.

“Smoltz immediately indicated he felt there was a mixup, and then playfully said that he was sure a number of his friends were having some fun with this information,” the paper reported.

The Journal-Constitution writer who broke the initial story reached Smoltz on Sunday. The pitcher made it clear he has no immediate political aspirations.

“It’s not in my plans,” the pitcher told the paper.

So apparently those Cardinals fans hoping for a Smoltz return to St. Louis in 2010 don’t have to give up yet.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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