Dan's Dugout: Old Heroes Meet at Spring Camp • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Old Heroes Meet at Spring Camp


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – One of the best things about spring training is the seeing old heroes wearing their uniforms again.

Before the Phillies-Braves game at Champion Stadium Wednesday, Dale

Chipper Jones is a 2018 lock for election Credit: Bill Menzel

Chipper Jones is a 2018 lock for election
Credit: Bill Menzel

Murphy and Chipper Jones were actually chatting behind the batting cage.

Gene Garber, once Murphy’s teammate, was within shouting distance.

The pre-game banter actually gave Braves fans with quick lenses the chance to capture three franchise players: Murphy, who won consecutive National League MVPs in 1982-83; Jones, who won the same award in 1999; and Freddie Freeman, who inherted their mantle as Face of the Franchise.

Although he himself is a first-ballot lock in the 2018 Hall of Fame voting, Jones conceded that long-time teammate Andruw Jones has a chance too.

“We’re developing quite a Braves wing in Cooperstown,” he said, referring to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Bobby Cox, enshrined in 2014; John Smoltz, admitted a year later; and John Schuerholz, one of five members of the Class of 2017.

Longtime Braves GM John Schuerholz is the latest Brave in the Hall Credit: Dan Schlossberg

Longtime Braves GM John Schuerholz is the latest Brave in the Hall
Credit: Dan Schlossberg

“Andruw won 10 straight Gold Gloves and hit more than 400 home runs,” Chipper continued, then added that Cooperstown cases could also be made for former teammates Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff.

Both Chipper and Murphy look like they could step into the batting cage and rip a few line drives. But Murphy, a five-time Gold Glover, said he can barely throw anymore and can’t hit because his eyesight isn’t as sharp as it once was.

Both men still maintain strong affiliations with the Braves and say they are impressed with the flood of talent sprinkled throughout the farm system.

Jones rattled off the unfamiliar names of three minor-league outfielders who figure to be starters once veterans Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis have moved on. He also mentioned a catcher he says has “light-tower power.”

In the game, a fleet centerfielder named Micah Johnson made two fine catches and poked a line-drive single in his quest to land the open fourth outfielder spot. He’d be a cheaper roster addition than Jeff Francoeur, a former Brave still available via free agency.

Atlanta also needs a Freddie Freeman backup and could turn to Kelly

Freddie Freeman has no capable understudy

Freddie Freeman has no capable understudy

Johnson, like Francoeur an Atlanta native who has played for the Braves before. Catcher Bret Lalli started at first base against Philadelphia.

The game was also of interest because Bartolo Colon, the probable No. 2 starter behind Julio Teheran, worked three solid innings in his final appearance before joining the Dominican team in the World Baseball Classic.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Chipper Jones never won a Gold Glove for his play at third base but believes he should have won in both 1997, when the award went to Ken Caminiti, and 2005, when David Wright got it . . .

Scouts from the arch-rival Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals inadvertently landed at the same lunch table in the press room and, when revealed, said, “We’ll be friends anyway.” . . .

The career of one-time speed merchant Michael Bourn may be over now that he’s sidelined for a month with a broken finger. He was in camp with the Orioles on a minor-league contract.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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