Odds and ends from Day 2 in Braves camp
Before the Braves begin their workouts on this sunny Sunday morning in ESPN land, I figured I’d provide you a couple of light-hearted notes that have been gathered during the early days of this camp that is still awaiting the arrivals of Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus, Jason Heyward and a handful of other position players, who aren’t required to report until Monday.
When Derek Lowe called the Braves this winter to express interest in changing his number to 24, he was told the number had already been claimed by Nate McLouth, who was forced to change his to appease Billy Wagner’s request to wear number 13.
“The only reason that I took 24 is because it’s my favorite TV show and Lost isn’t a number,” said McLouth, who wasn’t willing to divulge what kind of compensation was provided by Wagner.
Lowe said he last wore 24 in high school and has since been unable to claim it in the Majors. When he played for the Mariners, some guy named Ken Griffey Jr. was wearing it and he’s unsure of why it was unavailable during his days in Boston. Then when he signed with the Dodgers, he learned the number had been retired for Walter Alston.
Wagner’s redneck football: Wagner is big believer in the benefits a pitcher can gain by throwing a football and he’s spent some time the past couple of days gripping the pigskin while sitting at his locker.
“It strengthens the arm, but also helps your grip,” Wagner said. “You’ve got to have strong fingers to throw a football correctly.”
While sitting at his locker this morning, Wagner tossed the football across the room to Takashi Saito and quickly learned that the Japanese hurler certainly hasn’t had much previous experience throwing one.
After Saito’s ugly unorthodox throwing motion produced a few wobblers acrosss the room, Wagner said, “He’s going to teach me Japanese and I’m going to teach him redneck football.”
Bye-bye Yankees paraphernalia: When hard-throwing left-handed reliever Mike Dunn learned that he had been traded to the Braves that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yankees, he gained the sense that he’d been provided a better opportunity to reach the Majors.
“I’m excited to come here and play,” Dunn said. “It’s a good chance for me. I’m not saying anything bad about the Yankees. They took care of me and I love them, but I think I have a better opportunity outside of the Yankees organization.”
As for Dunn’s family members, who pull for a range of teams located in the western portion of the country, they welcomed the opportunity to end their days of pulling for the Yankees.
“I tell you the family was pretty happy to get rid of the Yankees stuff,” Dunn said. “No matter what team I’m on, they’re going to cheer for them and that’s going to be their new team. But they were pretty happy to get rid of their Yankees stuff and drop the YES Network immediately.”
Wagner, who grew up within a family and rural Virginia community that includes plenty of Braves fans, also seemed to draw a positive reaction from friends and family members when he opted to sign with Atlanta in December.
“It’s funny because now everybody back home says, ‘now I can truly root for you,'” Wagner said.