Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — The Braves have 31 pitchers in camp, and Cox said three newcomers – closer Billy Wagner, setup man Takashi Saito and Jesse Chavez — stood out when he watched their bullpen sessions Saturday.
Wagner also impressed everyone near the batting cage on the main field as he popped the catcher’s mitt repeatedly with fastballs and sliders during a batting-practice session against other pitchers and catchers.
“That must be some barn he has,” general manager Frank Wren said, referring to the barn on Wagner’s Virginia farm, where the 37-year-old left-hander does his winter throwing when it’s too cold or snowy outside.
Wagner downplayed his work and Wren’s comment.
“I didn’t think it was impressive,” Wagner said, before being told that Wren and others thought otherwise. “Oh, shoot, I mean, you think Frank’s gonna sit out there and go, what the hell did we just do?”
Wagner has 385 career saves and signed a one-year, $7 million contract. He said he was excited before his first workout with his new team.
“Oh, yeah, because you want to impress,” he said. “I know these guys know what I’ve done, but it doesn’t matter what I’ve done. It’s what can I do and how can I help the team. They’re looking. They’re watching. What’s he doing? Is he doing his running? Is he doing his lifting? Is he giving max effort when he’s out there doing his drills? So you’ve always got to impress, no matter what your stature is.”