It’s Saturday and the last exhibition game of the year, and I’m posting a blog because DOB set the breakneck pace of a blog-a-day all spring on days the Braves had games. Who am I to break the streak now?
(Though, I’ll be honest. I actually thought about it, and instead of blogging, kicking back with a cup of coffee and a plate of breakfast here before the game. I’ve been up since 6 and ran 10 miles this morning. But hey, no excuses. Besides, guilt got the better of me.)
So where are we….Is it too early for a mood of the clubhouse update? Ah, what the heck. As much as players – and apparently beat writers – were worn out the last week or so of spring training, coming home to Turner Field got everyone abuzz again. And it’s a fun time of year to be in a clubhouse, especially now that cuts are over, and everyone is bopping around with the promise of a clean slate and a new season.
I’m sure DOB will set the tone tomorrow for the start of the season witih the Phillies and for now, I figured I’d wax a little more nostalgic on Jordan Schafer.
That’s part of the fun, seeing a guy like him make a major league roster, after all he dealt with last season and the 50-game suspension, and now here he is, having a hard time containing his smile. I figured the conversation he had with his dad was pretty special yesterday, so I asked him about it.
It started with a text message to his dad Dave after Schafer came out of Bobby Cox’s office, saying “I made it.” His dad texted back how proud he was. And then later, after last night’s game, there was the emotional phone call, with a few tears for both father and son.
“He’s been through a lot of stuff with me,” Schafer said. “He’s been there helping me out since I was little. In a way, it’s part of him. It felt like he made it too. It’s nice, he could be there and share that with me….
“It feels like I’m living a dream right now. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, maybe tonight on the plane to Philly, maybe I’ll feel it, or when I step out there on the field.”
Schafer said he’s got 20-25 family members coming from Florida and Chicago to converge on Philadelphia for Opening Day.
One of his teammates who got a big kick out of all this was Matt Diaz, who lives in the Lakeland, Fla. area near the Schafers and has known Schafer since he was in the eighth grade and playing baseball with Matt’s youngest brother Jonny.
“I’m really excited for him,” Diaz said. “It reminds you of all the things you take for granted. He was asking me what do I do with my suitcase and stuff like that.”
Diaz saw the work Schafer did to get to this point up close, hitting with him over the winter at Winter Haven High School and at a warehouse with Schafer’s pitching machine.
“Mentally he went through a huge growing process,” Diaz said. ”How tough mentally he became this past year – that was evident. No flashy red glove, no flashy red spikes this year. He wore a collared shirt to the park. It was just the little things. Each little thing he did was the right thing and it showed a lot of maturity on his part.”
OK I’ve run out of time, so I’ll give you the lineup and say Chipper Jones is not playing today because he’s feeling under the weather, but he isn’t expected to miss the opener tomorrow in Philadelphia. He didn’t have to play today, so why push it, Bobby figured.
This gives you an idea what the lineup should look like without Brian McCann in it, with Garret Anderson moving into the cleanup spot.
1. Yunel Escobar SS
2. Kelly Johnson 2B
3. Martin Prado 3B
4. Garret Anderson DH
5. Casey Kotchman 1B
6. Jeff Francoeur RF
7. Matt Diaz LF
8. Jordan Schafer CF
9. Clint Sammons C