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.

  

 

       

    

13 Comments

Poor Derek. Can’t catch a break.

Is anyone else relieved that they did not end up with Damon. I don’t see him as an upgrade in left field over Diaz and Cabrera. Offensively, Damon hit a bunch of home runs in a tiny ball park. In Turner field, he would probably hit 10. Diaz and Cabrera will likely combine for 20 (assuming Diaz gets 300 ABs). Defensively, he is now a liability. Additionally, his skills on the decline similar to GA in 2009. Maybe the Yankees noticed this which is why they would not sign him?? Regardless, I hope Heyward proves ready and Diaz continues what he started last year.

Mark,
Please get a Cox-think, on who or how the organization will address 3B when Chipper gets injured this season, and has to spend time on the DL. This isn’t negative thinking, this is being prepared.

Daitoclass you are on the right track with Chipper. He crossed over from the “if he gets hurt” to the ‘when he gets hurt” category 3 or 4 years ago. This is one of the reasons Glaus is in Atlanta to play 1B, having never played the position before. He’ll get a lot of work at 3B as well in ST, and probably during the season.
The Braves need to make the most of the games Chipper is healthy for as he can still be a force, and plan for the inevitable 25-40 games he won’t be able to be in the lineup. The NL East is going to be close and not having an answer for those 25-40 games without Chipper can certainly cost the Braves 2 to 5 games in the standings.

I agree, there has to be some Chipper insurance. Rother, I think that you hit the nail on the head with Glaus. Also, Infante/Prado can spell some time over at 3B as well. I guess it can be somewhat encouraging thought that Chipper played in his most games since 2003 last year. However, the guy is only getting older.

Speedybream, and in playing his most games since 2003, he had the worst year of his career. Not saying it was due entirely to fatigue (I know having no protection and messed up mechanics had a lot to do with ti), but it had to be at least partially. At this point, it probably makes more sense for us to WANT him to miss his customary 30 or so games.
Rother, you’re right on about Glaus. He is the insurance at 3B… and, if healthy, he’s very good insurance. Prado can always slide over there as well, especially if (when?) both Chipper and Glaus are hurt. Then we always have Mitch Jones to play 1B.

You can’t convince me that you WANT Chipper Jones to sit out. The guy was the batting champ 2 seasons ago, don’t forget. He had a bad season, and it started at the first of the year when fatigue wasn’t even an issue. Fatigue may have contributed, but I think mechanics and emotional stresses probably played a bigger hand in that season for him. I think we need to worry more about Chipper mentally if he starts off slow again this season. As for Mitch Jones, he is one of the biggest unknowns on our team. I don’t think its the time to assign him a jersey as of yet. I don’t understand the logic there. Infante is our golden goose in this situation. I’m pretty sure he can play just about any position in the field. If Chipper goes down. Why not just put Infante at 3B. No need to shift everybody around.

I just suggested Mitch Jones because he’s a right-handed slugger similar to Glaus who is only there to, well, slug… I like Infante, but in the given situation (Glaus and Chipper going down simultaneously), Jones is the power hitter you stick in there to hit the ball 75 miles. And it’s not that I WANT Chipper to sit out… I always look for the Gimpy Messiah to be in the line-up… but at this point in his career, if he doesn’t miss 30 games, he’s going to end up breaking his, well… everything.

I think Brooks Conrad should get some reps at 3rd in ST. This is a guy with some pop in his bat 28 HR, 91 RBI’s in 465 AB in AAA in 2008(over 20 Hr’s every year in the minors). He looked good for a while when came up for coffee last year. He faded when he started listening to Pendleton but then, Who Doesn’t??? He is a grown up and would be really serviceable as a back up for 2B and 3B, heck he’s played almost every postion on the field, even catching a couple games at AAA. He’s not flashy but I think this kid is a solid guy. He has been around enough where he might even do well in PH situations( I mean his 1st braves hit ws a 3R homer which won the game). I mean heck, could he do worse than Greg Norton?

papilgee4evaeva, I totally agree that Damon was only a figment of certain sportswriters imagination. One in particular is now acting like he never wanted Damon on the team.

On Glaus playing 3rd, I really don’t see it. It’s just making a merry-go-round of the infield. I think we will do better having someone ready to go at 3rd, less disruption and we have better back up for third right now than we do for 1st. I mean you don’t want to move Prado, too.

The reason I’m so on your case about Mitch Jones is because you cannot put him in the same league as Chipper and not even Troy Glaus. Jones and Glaus have hit hundreds of HR in MLB. Mitch Jones has 0. I see you are submitting a hypothetical here, but I would much rather have Infante and Hinske show their versitality by filling in for the injury. And let’s face it, if we lose two of our best hitters to injury, then we are done anyways. . . .

By the way, Wagner saying he would teach Saito/Kawakami redneck football . . . . I’m loving this guy more everyday.

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