Spring has sprung here at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports as Braves pitchers and catchers have officially reported. The first official workout will take place on Wednesday, but that didn’t stop a number of players from getting extra work in on Tuesday. In addition to 34 pitchers and 8 catchers, plenty of position players were seen around the complex early Tuesday morning. Infielders like Chase d’Arnaud, Jace Peterson and Adonis Garcia were taking extra infield work with new third base coach Ron Washington, while outfielders Ender Inciarte and Matt Kemp also got some extra work in as well.
With the way the Braves closed out the 2016 season and the moves that have been made over the last five months, there’s a different feel around camp. With veteran starters like Bartolo Colon, RA Dickey and Jaime Garcia joining the starting staff, and a lineup that features Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp and Brandon Phillips in the heart of the order, the Braves are hoping to build on a strong finish from last year.
Newcomer Kurt Suzuki had a big smile on his face as he met his new teammates and boasted about watching Braves games every day as a youngster on TV after he’d get home from school in Hawaii. Jaime Garcia said he also grew up a fan of the club and followed their moves very closely this offseason, even prior to being traded from St Louis.
While the Braves may not be getting a ton of national attention, don’t tell that to the guys in the home clubhouse at Disney. There’s a sense of confidence and optimism that hasn’t been felt this strongly over the past few seasons. If the starting staff can do its job and the offense continues firing like it did over the last two months of 2016, the 2017 Braves should be a very competitive ballclub over the next seven months.