Woods can hit baseballs, too
Golf great connects off Smoltz for hit during simulated game
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Some say it was definitely a base hit. Others claim Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson or shortstop Yunel Escobar would have clearly fielded the Tiger Woods grounder.
But none of those present at Orlando's Disney Wide World of Sports Complex were disputing the fact it was fun watching Woods stand in the batters' box while good friend John Smoltz completed another of the simulated games he's using as part of his personally designed Spring Training preparations.
"He's probably one of the best athletes of all time," Braves catcher Brian McCann said of Woods. "It was just fun to see him with a bat in his hands against Smoltz."
Wearing a Braves jersey, shorts and some cleats, Woods joined Chipper Jones, Jeff Francoeur and Tim Hudson as Smoltz's opposition for the day. As the catcher, McCann was the only position player on the field during the exhibition game.
Nobody was surprised when Smoltz recorded strikeouts during Woods' first two at-bats. During the golfer's next plate appearance, a 3-2 pitch was ruled a ball, resulting in a walk.
Then, during the fourth and final confrontation between these two, Smoltz provided a 75 mph fastball that Woods directed back up the middle.
Smoltz tipped his cap, conceding that he'd just yielded a single to Woods. But Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell said he thought Johnson might have been able to get to the grounder and record the out.
"I've got our second baseman making that play," McDowell said.
Earlier this week, Woods, who isn't participating in this week's PGA Tour event, played a round of golf with Smoltz, Francoeur and Tom Glavine. With his round of 66, Woods had no trouble making sure the baseball players remembered they were on his turf.
When asked who made who look worse while playing their respective sports, McCann provided a somewhat political response.
"Smoltzie is going to make anybody look bad if they aren't a baseball player," McCann said.
As for Francoeur, he had no trouble determining, "Tiger made Smoltzie look way worse on the golf course."
Woods' participation in this simulated game provided more indication that Smoltz truly is trying to prepare himself physically without the mental stress he might feel during Grapefruit League games.
Smoltz's first simulated game came last Friday, and he may throw another one or pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday. He definitely won't make his Grapefruit League debut until March 15 and could even delay that for an additional five days.
McDowell was encouraged by the performance provided by Smoltz, who is using these behind-the-scenes preparations to improve some of his offspeed pitches, namely his two-seam fastball and changeup.
While Woods' single might remain in dispute, Hudson felt he had two legitimate singles against Smoltz.
"I had one blooper and one line drive over second base," Hudson said. "I had a .667 batting average and three RBIs."
Jones, who has been out since tweaking his right hamstring during Sunday's batting practice, hit one of the 40-year-old right-hander's pitches off the left-center-field fence for what would have likely been a double.
After the simulated game, McCann and Francoeur went to share a round together on the golf course. It was believed Smoltz and Woods were going to do the same.
But it's unknown if Woods was going to reciprocate with his own generosity.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.