Thursday marked the Braves first official full squad workout of the new year. That said, it’s felt like these have been going on for the better part of the last week with so many position players arriving to central Florida early. While today’s workout featured more of the standard fundamental drills like base running, infield work, outfielders hitting cutoff men, etc…a familiar face was spotted roaming the back fields at the Wide World of Sports complex.
Andruw Jones has become a staple of the early part of spring training since officially retiring prior to the 2016 season. Last season, it was pretty clear the impact he had with the young outfielders as guys like Ronald Acuna, Cristian Pache and others constantly gravitated towards him during drills. But this year, his impact could be even greater, as youngsters like Johan Camargo and Austin Riley will see reps in the outfield once games begin this weekend.
“It’s always great to be on the field. You miss it when you retire” Jones said following Thursday’s workout. “You always have that instinct and that knowledge that you can pass along to a young kid or the coaches” he added when I asked him about the balance between sharing information without stepping on the coaches toes. Brian Snitker said he encouraged Jones to spend as much time as he could with Camargo and Riley as they get their feet wet at new positions in the outfield this spring, and over the next few weeks, you’ll likely see them spend quite a bit of time together on the back fields. But, for now, Jones is just happy to be back in uniform, with a chance to impart some of the wisdom he gained over the course of a 17 year career in the Big Leagues.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet