Odds and ends as Braves pitchers and catchers report

Had Nate McLouth known how miserable his beloved Michigan Wolverines
were going to make him feel, he might have chosen to wait until the end
of the football season before correcting his vision with contact lenses.

But
now that he’s had about four months to get used to his contacts,
McLouth has arrived in Braves camp happy about the fact that he’s going
to be able to see better than he did towards the end of the 2009
season, when he started having trouble with his vision, particularly
during night games.   

“During the day, it was OK,” McLouth
said.  “But at night, when there’s  a lot of lights, things kind of
blurred together.  Now with the contacts, it has been great.” 

As
Braves pitchers and catchers reported to camp on Friday morning,
McLouth and Matt Diaz highlighted the group of position players who had
reported to camp early. 

Japanese hurlers Kenshin Kawakami and
Takashi Saito arrived at the newly named ESPN Wide World of Sports
comlex early Friday morning and immediately exchanged pleasantries with
the likes of Tim Hudson and Peter Moylan, a pair of fun-loving hurlers
who know how to create some laughs around the clubhouse. 

Early
indications are that they’ll be having some fun with their new closer
Billy Wagner, who came to camp this morning wearing a flannel shirt,
jeans, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.

Craig Kimbrel, the
hard-throwingreliever who has been called the right-handed Billy
Wagner, shied away from his first opportunity to meet the veteran
closer. He’ll likely have the same kind of timid reaction when he first
sees Chipper Jones, whose number he wore while growing up as a third
baseman in Alabama.  

“Right now I’m just trying to get past
seeing guys that I’ve watched when I was younger,” Kimbrel said.  “I’m
trying not to let that get to me.  I’m trying to focus on getting the
job done and remembering that it’s just a game.”

While Kimbrel
adjusts to this new Major League lifestyle, Wagner has already taken
advantage of the opportunity to get used to his new catcher Brian
McCann. 

After they completed a short throwing session
together, Wagner took McCann to the plate and started talking to him
about how he likes to throw to certain hitters, based on where they are
standing in the batter’s box. 

The always-jovial Wagner also
took time to provide some laughs when talking to reporters.  When asked
if he bought into thoughts of doing whatever it took to make sure Bobby
Cox’s final season is a special one, the veteran reliever provided the
reminder that he’s the one who has never had the opportunity to play in
the Fall Classic.

“Heck I haven’t been to the World Series
ever,” Wagner said with his southern drawl. “How about going out there
and putting out a little effort for me.  (Peter Moylan) can go out
there and go like an inning and two-thirds and give me a
third-of-an-inning save every once in a while.   I mean Chipper and all
these guys, Bobby, they’ve gone to the World Series a couple of times. 
I’ve never been.  How about one for Wags?” 

Wagner, who
remains confident that his arm is strong, is looking forward to the
opportunity to spend some more time with Saito, who was with him in
Boston’s bullpen for the final weeks of the 2009 season. 

When
asked how they had developed such a bond, Wagner once again stirred
some laughs while pointing out that Saito had a firm grasp of the
English language. 

“He speaks English,” Wagner said.  “Like I
told him, it’s like everybody else. When you’ve got a second language,
you only can’t speak English when you’ve had a tough game…It’s
something where sometimes wish I had a second language.”     

Another
former Red Sox pitcher, Derek Lowe chose not to come to the stadium on
Friday. But pitchers and catchers were only required to report at some
point during the day that they have arrived. 

The Braves expect Lowe in camp on Saturday, when pitchers and catchers stage their first workout. 

Check
MLB.com and braves.com later today for stories that include more
information about Wagner, McLouth and some of the other figures who
have reported to camp.

Follow me on Twitter @mlbbowman 

10 Comments

HaHA! Love him to death, but Mark you have GOT to give Nate a ration for me. I didn’t know he was a UM fan. I know you’ve probably been riding him about DickRod, but just tell him I said 6 years in a row and let me know what he says lol.

Awesome. I like Wagner already.

Anybody else notice that Wagner is just another in the group of Braves on this team that is loose and laid back up until they step between the lines, then they all get nasty? We couldn’t ask for a better team makeup going into the season. If this bunch is in the hunt in September they are not going to fade or go quietly. They’ll have to be beaten.

Just for fun, I was wondering what jersey numbers Wagner and McLouth were going to wear since they’re both 13… according to the 40-man roster, Wagner’s keeping 13, while McLouth switched to 24. Jordan Schafer, who originally wore 24, will now wear 2.
Mark, any idea what the terms were on the number swaps? Dinner? Golf clubs? Motorcycles?

Someone get Wagner a “horse to ride in on”.

Why?

I’ll check with all of the guys tomorrow to see what was exchanged with the number swaps. One more to report: Jesse Chavez will now wear 43 and 3B coach Brian Snitker is wearing 51. I’m going to guess that swap wasn’t as lucrative for Snit as the one involving Wagner.

Yeah, Wagner is a likable guy. He’s got Hampton’s great personality. But unless you were in the trainer’s room or clubhouse, you probably have already forgotten about this Hampton dude that I’m referencing.

How about Rafael Soriano not working out today because of a respiratory infection or something like that. That wasn’t predictable or anything. Doesn’t he realize you can’t use that same excuse two years in a row?

Viva,

Cause he was wearing cowboy boots and a hat. Nothing derogatory.

Hey,

The next time some jerkwad makes a comment about the Braves not filling the stands or how lousy are fans are, try this. In 2007, The Braves drew only 8% less fans than Boston while spending 64% on Payroll. Last Year Detroit outdrew us by 8% again(and I mean what else is going on in Detroit) and they paid 20% more in salary. The Braves sit 15th in attendance out of 30 teams. Detroit will spend $143,000,000 for salary this year. We go cheap Charlie and will wind up down $6M to $90M.

Ever think maybe it’s cheap owners and not the fans???

We spent 64% less than Boston in 2007

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