Today is the first day of workouts for Braves pitchers and catchers, and it really does feel like a new era around here at Wide World of Sports complex.
Heard a Braves official mention this morning that there’s a different vibe in camp than in recent years, and I told him that I agreed. And the thing is, I actually did.
This the first year where none of the ties to the 14-consecutive-division-title teams are in uniform any longer. No Bobby Cox, no John Smoltz, no Chipper Jones, nobody. Only John Schuerholz, and he’s in a golf vest doing his thing as team president.
And accentuating that changing-of-the-guard feel is the presence of the Upton brothers, Justin and B.J., in the outfield. Both of them are suited up and working out today after B.J. showed up today, joining his younger brother among the early arriving position players (Justin got here Monday).
There’s almost always a positive, upbeat feeling in every big-league team’s camp at the start of spring training. But this seems particularly to be the case this year in Braves camp. Which is saying something, considering they are in a division with the team (Washington) just about everyone is picking to repeat as NL East champions and to contend for a World Series title.
The Braves believe they can, too. Tim Hudson told me this morning that if everything goes as planned, if everybody does what they’re capable of doing, the Braves can win the World Series. And sure, a lot of folks say that. But he’s got a point. With this rotation and arguably the NL’s best bullpen, the Braves don’t need a lot of offense to be a strong contender.