And my pres pass odyssey begins. I got to the park around 4:00 pm and picked up my media credentials and parked the car in the media lot. I made my way up to the press box and found a place for my laptop bag. Everyone up here knows each other, so all the other reporters and TV/radio engineers were saying their hellos. I sat down in the media lounge area behind the press box and watched the end of the Cubs - Padres game. While I was hanging out there, all the Braves broadcasters wandered in one by one. I didn't notice them at first as much as I heard them. The voices of Skip Caray and Don Sutton are rather unmistakable. Joe Simpson is really tall.
I finally worked up enough nerve to make my way down to the clubhouse and onto the field. I rode the elevator with AJC reporter Jeff Schultz, and since I didn't really know where I was going, I just followed him. I signed in and headed down the tunnel to the field. You know those movies where the young rookie is going down the tunnel, then climbs the clubhouse steps and walks on the field for the first time? That was really what it felt like - cheesy, I know.
As I looked back in the dugout, there was Bobby Cox, sitting talking to Chip Caray. I hung out next to the dugout steps for a little while just looking around and taking it all in. Glenn Hubbard and Pat Corrales were hitting balls to the players taking infield practice. It was pretty fun watching the back and forth with them and the guys in the field as they coached them and encouraged them.
I wandered into the dugout and sat down on the bench. Bobby Cox was talking to Jeff Schultz by this point so I walked over and stood by Schultz and listened to him and Bobby chat. It was great, sometimes the questions were about the Braves, sometimes about things going on around baseball, sometimes they were just personal questions, like chit-chat. Schultz used the conversation to casually ask about players and possible managerial decisions. The question I recall best was when Schultz asked Cox how he thought his pitcher was going to do today. Bobby didn't necessarily answer the question, just gave a full body shrug and said something to the effect of "we'll see."
I saw Braves Media Relations director Brad Hainje, and introduced myself. He's a really nice guy and the he's one of the reasons I got this press pass, so I thought it a good PR move to say thanks.
I wandered out onto foul territory behind the batting cage and introduced myself to David O'Brien of the AJC and Mark Bowman of MLB.com. I had emailed David that I was going to be at the game and asked if I could meet up and say hi. David and Mark were real nice and we chatted for a little while. I didn't want to cramp their style too much so when they went about tracking down some players to talk to, I didn't tag along even though I wanted to. They went over and talked with Francoeur. I'm sure we'll see some quotes tomorrow.
Walked up next to the batting cage and stood next to Terry Pendleton for a while. Another reporter was asking him about Andruw Jones and how was he helping Andruw work his way out of his mild slump. Terry had some great answers, saying basically that Andruw was pretty pig headed and didn't want to listen too much to advice, but in a mildly joking manner. Terry waits until Andruw comes to him for advice and then lays out what he should change or adjust. TP was really fun to stand next to. He would shout out reminders to guys in the cage, making sure they were keeping their focus and working on the things they needed to work on.
Adam LaRoche had a great exchange with Pendleton. Apparently Adam is too quick to the ball when he swings and Terry was trying to get him to slow down. LaRoche walks around the cage and says with a bit of a smirk on his face, "everything else I do is slow, why can't this be too." It was a great little exchange.
As the Braves were winding down BP, I headed up the tunnel to the locker room. I stood around in there for a while and talked with Jeff Schultz, but most of the players were not around. I did get to see how pudgy Jorge Sosa is without his shirt on. I headed back up the media elevator to the press box and set up my computer.
At one point I stood and watched the end of the Dodgers - Giants game with Don Sutton, Pete Manzano, Fernando Palacios, and several Major League scouts. They were talking about Baez and how he was throwing only fastballs and hardly any splitters. To hear those old pros talk about baseball was totally awesome.
In the top of the second inning, a Braves media guy walked around and handed out a press release to everyone in the press box. The release said that Nationals catcher Brian Schneider had been put on the 15-day DL, and the team had activated former Brave Robert Fick from the DL. It was pretty cool to have news like that at almost the very second that anyone else in the baseball world knew about it.
It's the middle of the fifth inning right now, and the score is tied at two. And no sooner did I write that last sentence did Todd Pratt hit a homerun to right-centerfield. I'll post a wrap-up of my adventures and of the game either later tonight or tomorrow.