Braves Caravan Friday; Wren, Schuerholz, Chipper Q&A

Braves Caravan 2010 made a stop at the Sun Trust Club at Turner Field, with participants Zane Smith, Roger McDowell, John Schuerholz, Chipper Jones, Tommy Hanson, Lee Hyde, and James Parr.

After I finished watching Camp Roger and talking with many of the pitchers attending, I headed over to the Sun Trust club to a Q&A for season ticket holders that was part of the Braves Caravan. Much like I summarized Camp Roger earlier, here is a bullet point summary of that Q&A:

  • The participants were Zane Smith, Roger McDowell, John Schuerholz, Chipper Jones, Tommy Hanson, Lee Hyde, and James Parr. The even was moderated by Don Sutton, who was quite funny.
  • Chipper said that off-season newspaper and radio reports of his demise and tough 2009 campaign served as motivation for him during his workouts this winter. He said that he and his father found what was wrong with Chipper's swing, apparently his hands were out of position at the trigger point. He has apparently fixed this and believes it will help lead to a turnaround in 2010.
  • Schuerholz said he believes that no team is as deep in the starting rotation as the Braves. He also said that Martin Prado was the catalyst in the Braves' lineup last season.
  • Schuerholz said that the game plan Bobby Cox has is to start a platoon of Matt Diaz and Melky Cabrera in left field and Jason Heyward in right field. He then hedged a little on Heyward and followed up his original statement by saying Heyward will have to earn his job, but that he has the inside track on the right field job.

More highlights and pictures after the jump...

  • At one point Frank Wren came down and one of the participants saw him and directed a question his way. The question was why the team had released hometown hero Jeff Francoeur. Wren said that at one point the Braves lineup last year was "Escobar, Chipper, McCann, and oh no!" He said the rest of the lineup were outs, including Francoeur, who Braves officials were convinced was no longer capable of producing everyday at a major league level.
  • Wren said that one of the reasons the team traded Francoeur is that they knew they were going to get rid of him, so they would rather non-tender Ryan Church than Jeff Francoeur.
  • Wren also gave a big vote of confidence to Heyward, saying that he is more special than any other position player prospect in baseball.
  • Roger McDowell was asked about being the "second spitter" in a Seinfeld episode. He said that the role was originally written for Darryl Strawberry, but he was unavailable. McDowell apparently still gets a residual check for $13.52 every time the episode is aired anywhere in the world.
  • Schuerholz said that there was no crying need for another big bat at this time. He shrugged off reports that they were interested in Johnny Damon.
  • When asked who might replace Bobby in 2011, Schuerholz said that to properly honor the last season of Bobby Cox, neither he nor anyone else in the front office will comment on a possible replacement at any point this season. The issue will only be addressed publicly at the end of next season.

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Frank Wren showed up to the Braves Caravan stop at the Sun Trust Club at Turner Field.

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John Schuerholz answers questions as Chipper Jones and Tommy Hanson look on.

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Young reliever Lee Hyde shows the crowd how to grip a knuckle curveball, one of the pitches in his repertoire.

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