February 20, 2008
Lake Buena Visita -- The Atlanta Braves took the field at Disney Wide World of Sports Complex Wednesday ready to show the baseball world they will join the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies in the race for the 2008 National League Eastern Division title this season.
Outfielder Jeff Francouer says, "I believe we have a good ballclub, and I will put our ballclub against theirs right now. We are have confidence in what we can do."
The Braves believe their pitching staff, starting and bullpen, is why they will prevail over the Mets and Phillies this season.
Catcher Brian McCann says, "When you can say Tom Glavine and Mike Hampton are your number three and four guys. Mike Hampton looks unbelievable. His arm looks great. He is hitting his spots."
With switch hitters Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira hitting back-to-back in the heart of the Braves lineup, the pitching staff is expected to have plenty of run support.
The question some on the pitching staff may have is can Mark Kotsay take away doubles in centerfield like Andruw Jones did for ten years.
Francouer says, "We were joking around on who is going to cover the gap in right center. I told him I would like him to get it if he can."
Before the Atlanta Braves take the field for their first full squad workout, they usually get a pep talk from manager Bobby Cox.
But not this year.
Cox flew back to Atlanta earlier this week due to a death in his family.
The Braves skipper is expected back in Orlando on Thursday.
Chipper Jones says, "You kind of miss his opening day speech. He kind of gets us all jacked up with his optimism for the coming season."
The Braves will continue their daily workouts before opening the exhibition season next wednesday at Disney's Champion Field against the University of Georgia.