Tiger Woods batting practice vs. John Smoltz story told with hilarious outcome

Once upon a time, at the peak of their powers, Tiger Woods took batting practice against baseball Hall of Famer John Smoltz.

Fresh off Tommy John surgery, Smoltz had to throw a simulated game as part of his rehabilitation process, and Woods wanted to face Smoltz in the batter’s box. At that juncture, Braves manager Bobby Cox relegated Smoltz to the bullpen, but the team wanted to work Smoltz back into the starting rotation, where he spent the better part of his career.

So Smoltz, the 1996 National League Cy Young Award winner, invited Woods to participate in the simulated game at Turner Field, while the Atlanta Braves were out of town.

Brian McCann, a young up-and-comer at the time who would eventually become a seven-time all-star, caught Smoltz on this particular day while Woods put on a pair of spikes. The 15-time major champion even donned a Braves jersey, emphasizing the simulation of a real game.

“So, we set it up,” Smoltz reminisced at this week’s Invited Celebrity Classic.

“And [Woods] goes, ‘Number one rule. Give me everything you have. Don’t hold back.’ And I said, ‘Tiger, this is the deal. I’m not worried about hitting you. I’m just worried about your thumb getting jammed when you hit. That could keep you out of golf for a while.’ Well, he’s a great athlete, and he got in there, and it would be like me trying to think that I could make the cut at The Masters this past year. No chance.”

At the end of the at-bats, Smoltz tossed Woods a couple of fastballs that he thought he could hit.

“When [Woods] found that out, he got really mad,” Smoltz added.

“But he declared himself 1-for-4 with a walk. So I let him roll with it.”

Smoltz remained in the bullpen for the better part of four years after his Tommy John surgery but set a National League record with 55 saves in 2002. He eventually returned to the starting rotation ahead of the 2005 season.

Meanwhile, Woods went on to win the Masters and the U.S. Open in 2002, his seventh and eighth major titles, respectively.

But Woods struggled at the dish against Smoltz in the simulated game.

At least he got on base, or so he claims.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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