LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As they prepared to begin another season serving as the Braves' television voices, Joe Simpson and Chip Caray spent the final portion of Spring Training getting a feel for the team they will follow over the next six months.
Before a recent broadcast, Simpson and Caray chatted with MLB.com about a variety of topics, ranging from the Atlanta's injury-depleted pitching staff to the Braves' hope that Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton will extend the success they have had during the Grapefruit League season.
"I'm very impressed with the way both of those guys look," Simpson said. "From B.J.'s standpoint, some of the adjustments he's made with his swing with regard to his upper body, he's getting good results. I think good results create good confidence and increasing confidence. The same thing for Dan Uggla. Dan talked about spreading his stance out a little bit. He's getting good results. Any time you can go into a regular season feeling good about your swing, you usually have good results."
Caray's optimism concerning Upton is partially a product of the fact that the veteran center fielder is expected to fill the lineup's second spot, allowing him a chance to bat in front of Freddie Freeman.
"You figure with Freddie Freeman hitting behind him, he's going to see a lot of fastballs," Caray said. "And we know when [Upton] is right, he can hit those."
While Upton and Uggla have created some optimism, the Braves are entering the season with the reality that their rotation will not include Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, who both underwent season-ending Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery this month.
"I've got the same questions everybody else has," Simpson said. "When you lose Medlen at the top of your rotation, that is a big punch to take and get through. The Nationals, no question, got better. If for no other reason, they went and got Doug Fister. But also, some of their guys are a year older and more experienced, like [Bryce Harper]."
Caray pointed out that some Braves fans should now be happy that general manager Frank Wren did not heed their wish to trade some of the pitching prospects who now stand as integral parts of the starting rotation.
"We have to remember a few years ago when Braves fans were clamoring for Frank Wren to trade some of his established starters to go get a bat or an established rental starter for a playoff run," Caray said. "He said, 'There are some guys in this organization we're not going to trade' -- Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and maybe Alex Wood too. All three of those guys are huge parts of this ballclub.
"I've been really impressed with the way Alex Wood has pitched this spring. He looks so much more confident and so much more in command on the mound. The same is true of Julio Teheran. We saw the other day why he was considered the top pitching prospect in baseball just a couple years ago."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.