I caught up with Braves lefty reliever Macay McBride several weeks ago in the Braves clubhouse at spring training. Macay is a very down to earth kind of guy, and someone who could best be described as "country nice." I've spoken with Macay several times before and he's always very willing to answer any question I throw out there, and he usually does it with a constant little chuckle.
Martin Gandy: So, how was your off-season?
Macay McBride: My off-season was great. I hunted, I fished...I worked out, and started throwing.
MG: Did you work on anything specific this off-season?
MM: I trimmed up a little bit, and just tried to get stronger, and obviously just get ready. I knew after going through last year, I knew what I needed to do to be able to pitch in a lot of ballgames.
MG: How do you feel about your spring so far?
MM: Some ups and downs. The first outing, I felt, was pretty good - I had some bleeders hit off of me. The second outing was awful, and the last outing was good. Spring training has never been good for me, and it never will be good for me probably - and I don't know what it is.
MG: What's the team chemistry like without LaRoche and Giles?
MM: You know, it's different, you can definitely tell a difference. However, we've got some good guys that are in those spots now and they're great dudes. You know, you can't really tell until the season starts and you get everything down to a smaller group, then you can see more of chemistry.
MG: What are the main differences?
MM: You knew Giles was here - put it that way. <laughing>
MG: Has anyone taken over his role as the jokester?
MM: Not yet. Hampton's pretty good at it though.
MG: How's the competition out there in the bullpen?
MM: I don't know. I hadn't really paid attention to it because I figured I'd just go out there and pitch and work on what I need to do and take it from there. I think everybody's throwing good - I hope everybody throws good. So I just kind of get my work done and see what happens.
MG: Has Mike Gonzalez helped you out at all - with him being an experienced lefty reliever?
MM: You know, he's a great dude, but this is such a short time that I don't really expect him to have to help me. Once the season starts I'm sure I'll learn something from watching him pitch. You know, now I don't get to see him pitch a lot because when I'm not pitching I'm not here.
MG: Is there a different attitude here this year not coming off a division title?
MM: Everybody seems to have a little chip on their shoulder, which is good. I think we'll turn it over into April and from there see what happens. I know we're going to have ups and downs, but I think everybody realizes that we're not the top dog anymore - so to speak.
MG: Who's the team to beat in the National League?
MM: Us. <laughing>
MG: Where do you think the Braves will finish?
MM: Hopefully at the top, I mean, I don't see why we shouldn't, however there are some good teams in the National League. Our division is very tough, and it's going to be a fun season trying to have that battle every day.
MG: Are there any players you've seen this spring that you think will surprise us this season?
MM: I think Kelly Johnson and Thorman are going to be a lot better than people are giving them credit for. Those guys are pretty good players - they both can hit and they both want to win so that's a pretty good combination.
MG: Thank you very much.
MM: Okay, have a good one.