ATLANTA -- As the equipment and supplies were transported to a large moving truck located at Turner Field's loading dock on Friday morning, the Braves moved another step toward another season and, more importantly, a future that should be much brighter than the recent past.
"Less than a week now, we'll be rolling," pitching prospect Lucas Sims said. "It's exciting. This is the best time of the year."
Sims' sentiment is one that will be voiced by countless players as they arrive for the start of Spring Training over the course of the next week. The season will truly feel a little closer when Braves pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 19 and then hold their first workout the following morning.
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But there was still a sense of enhanced excitement as Atlanta Peach Movers completed its annual task of loading trucks with bats, balls, gloves, uniforms, food and various other items that Braves will use while spending the next six weeks at their Spring Training home -- ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
As the trucks were being loaded, Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Wisler, Williams Perez, Danny Burawa and Sims all worked out at Turner Field again. These five pitchers have spent most of the past two weeks coming to the stadium to strengthen their arms and also take advantage of the chance to get acquainted with new catcher Tyler Flowers, a suburban Atlanta resident who returned to the Braves after being non-tendered by the White Sox in December.
"Talking to him has been the best part for me," said Wisler in reference to the veteran catcher who he already refers to as T-Flo.
Though the Braves certainly won't be entering Spring Training surrounded by great expectations, there was still a definite sense of excitement as manager Fredi Gonzalez, pitching coach Roger McDowell and first-base coach Terry Pendleton each made an appearance at the stadium on Friday.
Gonzalez gathered some of his belongings in anticipation of his departure to Florida on Saturday afternoon. McDowell casually chatted with some of his pitchers, including Foltynewicz, who will have to maintain a level of patience as he will come to Spring Training a couple weeks behind schedule. Foltynewicz is still attempting to regain the strength he lost when doctors removed a portion of a rib behind his right shoulder blade after a blood clot was detected in September.
Though Foltynewicz and Wisler are both still quite new to the Major League scene, their regular presence over the past couple weeks has provided some comfort to Sims, the suburban Atlanta native who will be attending his first big league Spring Training with the Braves.
"Once you get to the Spring Training complex, you know it's full-time baseball ," Wisler said. "It's going to be nice to see everybody and just get back into the swing of things."