Josh Smoker Anxious to Meet Pirates Fans

Smoker joins Steven Brault and Felipe Rivero as lefties from the bullpen.

Jeff Hathhorn
March 26, 2018 - 5:28 pm
Josh Smoker

93.7 the Fan

While many wondered and maybe still wonder if he will ultimately be on the Opening Day roster, Josh Smoker was confident all along and felt from early last week that he would make the club.

“I was definitely excited and they were very excited,” Smoker said of calling his family.  “My dad is pretty emotional, he had to get off the phone pretty quick.  I hate it when he cries, same with my wife.”

When Smoker called his wife, she was at work.  She is a special education teacher in the small Georgia town of East Paulding.

“One of the good things about this game is you have a bigger impact than you realize,” Smoker said.  “I’ve tried to set a standard for myself no matter what situation I’m in, whether I’m dealing or giving up home runs left and right.  You never know who is watching.  So have to try and be a good person on and off the field and set a good example.  I’m just glad I get a chance to be with those kids, ‘cause I know they mean a lot to my wife.”

After a really bad first half last year with the Mets, the lefty reliever said it was the development of his slider that changed things for him.

“The best it’s ever felt,” Smoker said about slider.  “I’m really, really happy with it.  That has always been my weakness because for some reason I never really focused on it.”

Getting caught it deep counts has been an issue as Smoker got pulled into a meeting with pitching coach Ray Searage.  Searage said he wouldn’t tell us what was said, but alluded it was straight-forward.

“Just be efficient, stop trying to nibble and I’ve got to trust myself that I have good stuff,” Smoker said of the advice from Searage.  “I have to go after guys.  Strikeouts are going to happen but ultimately we don’t pitch for strikeouts, we pitch to get outs.”

Smoker had a fan yelling at him Sunday against Toronto.  A Blue Jays fans made comments like “throw the heater 5-3” and other pitching notes.  It didn’t bother him at all.

“It’s all fun and games, he wasn’t getting personal,” Smoker said.  “I’m perfectly ok with that.”

Smoker also is anxious to engage you.

“Definitely looking forward to getting to Pittsburgh and getting to mingle with the fans,” Smoker said.  “I love interacting with the fans, that’s what I live for.  I look forward to getting to know them.”