Atlanta Braves Anxious To Open 2013 Spring Training Camp On Feb. 11th

Saturday, February 9, 2013
The Braves train at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando.
The Braves train at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando.
- photo by Tim Evearitt
ATLANTA -- Boxes, crates and bags were stacked to the ceiling as Braves employees entered the home clubhouse at Turner Field early last Monday morning. By mid-afternoon, the bats, balls, uniforms and other items that filled these containers had been placed on a truck that was bound for the team's Spring Training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Moving has seldom been recognized as an act that generates much excitement. But countless baseball fans annually anticipate the day in which their favorite club essentially relocates to the city it calls home during Spring Training.


"This is my favorite part of the year, really," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You start getting the itch to get down there and smell the grass and hear the sounds of the bat hitting the ball and guys playing catch. It's a good time. You're ready to get going."

Braves pitchers and catchers are required to report to ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex by Feb. 11. But many players, including first baseman Freddie Freeman, are expected to arrive in the Orlando area this week.

This eager anticipation is shared by visiting clubhouse manager John Holland, who is preparing for his 38th Spring Training with the Braves. Holland and head athletic trainer Jeff Porter flew from Atlanta to Orlando early Monday afternoon.

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons is also expected to be among the early arrivals at Braves' camp this year. Simmons could be away from Atlanta's camp for at least two weeks while competing for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

Hensley Meulens, who will manage The Netherlands team, told Gonzalez that he plans to utilize Simmons as his leadoff hitter, a role he's expected to fill for the Braves, who were left with limited options when speedy outfielder Michael Bourn was lost to free agency.

Simmons batted .298 with a .335 on-base percentage in the 182 plate appearances he compiled after making his Major League debut in June.

One of the team's newcomers is third baseman Chris Johnson, who was acquired along with Justin Upton in the seven-player trade with Arizona two weeks ago. Johnson joined Mike Minor and pitching prospect J.R. Graham as a few of the players who completed their workout at Turner Field on Monday morning.

While Minor will go to camp for the first time all but assured of a spot in the Braves rotation, Johnson will go to Spring Training looking to earn as much time as possible at third base. The current plan is for him to begin the season platooning at the hot corner with Juan Francisco.

But Johnson, who combined to hit .281 with 15 home runs and a .777 OPS for the Astros and D-backs last year, remains hopeful to assume Chipper Jones' former position on a full-time role. Johnson happened to play collegiately at Stetson University for longtime coach Pete Dunn, who is Jones' godfather.

---- Source: MLB.com

- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt

PHOTOS: Scenic City Scorcher

The City Tennis Championship - Day 3

Highlighted by U. Of North Carolina four-time All-American Hayley Carter who plays singles semis at 11 a.m. and mixed doubles at 1 p.m. full slate of matches is set for today in the open division and rated doubles play. Women's Open Singles 11 a.m. #1 Hayley Carter vs. #4 Sydney Dittilo #2 Drew Hawkins vs. #3 Brooke Cordell   Men's Open Singles 1 a.m. ... (click for more)

Woman Arrested In Murder Of Eric Burchfield In Hixson; Mother Of Victim Said, "Ember Killed Him"

A woman has been arrested in the murder of 28-year-old  Eric Burchfield i n Hixson early Friday morning. Police identified her as Ember Lee Cash Elm. She was booked as Emily Leanne Brooks Johnson, 26, of 4024 Woodmont Dr. At 3:25 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a person who had been shot at the Kangaroo Express at 4849 Hixson Pike. Officers were on ... (click for more)

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson Booked At County Jail; Says He Is Not Guilty

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson was booked at the Bradley County Jail Friday morning. He faces six separate charges of altering/falsifying/forging a title plate assignment. Sheriff Watson, a former state legislator, posted a $30,000 bond. He issued this statement, "For more than a year, I have confronted numerous accusations from some who desire to have more control ... (click for more)

Do Something To Protect Our Children

It is unconscionable in this day and age that these children had to exist in such deplorable conditions and that an innocent baby suffered and died alone in a locked car.  Yes, there is blame and accountability considering this family had child neglect charges filed a few years ago (that were apparently dropped and expunged) and a large part of the responsibility should ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Every week I get emails full of inspiration and funny stories. This summer I have gathered a sampling of my weekly harvest and presented the collection as a reminder we ought to cherish laughter with those we love and the weekend. I am not only amazed how popular my ‘Summer Saturdays’ have become but this week I have gotten funnies from California, Texas and Arizona, to mention ... (click for more)