"He just wanted to let me know that he was happy for me and to congratulate me," Gonzalez said. "He also wanted to remind me to keep understanding my body and not to overdo anything."
Gonzalez's appearance on Wednesday was his first since undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery on May 31, 2007. Smoltz underwent the same surgical procedure in 2000 and then returned to assume the same closer role Gonzalez seemingly will continue to handle for the Braves.
Having grown up a Braves fan who idolized Smoltz, Gonzalez feels honored to have the veteran right-hander providing him so much concern. At the same time, he feels fortunate he's able to get advice from such an accomplished person, who already has traveled this same path.
"He's a legend," Gonzalez said. "Anything he says, I just shut up and listen."
While needing just 15 pitches to complete his perfect ninth inning and record his first save since May 11, 2007, Gonzalez showed Braves manager Bobby Cox enough to certainly gain more save opportunities.
"That was a pretty awesome performance," Cox said.
After the game, a security guard told Gonzalez he had some friends and family members who still were in the stands hoping to provide their own congratulatory messages. When Gonzalez made his way back to the field, he found a group of 50 people, some of whom were elementary school classmates he hadn't seen in nearly 15 years.
Before moving to the Houston area, Gonzalez attended an elementary school in Frisco, Texas, which is located approximately 30 minutes from Rangers Ballpark.
"I had to look at some of them for a few seconds to figure out who they were," Gonzalez said. "But it was great to see them all."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less