LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Braves manager Brian Snitker addressed his players before the team's first full-squad workout on Monday, he told them to embrace the change that occurred over the offseason when MLB's investigation led to the baseball operations department being overhauled.With general manager Alex Anthopoulos now running
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Braves manager Brian Snitker addressed his players before the team's first full-squad workout on Monday, he told them to embrace the change that occurred over the offseason when MLB's investigation led to the baseball operations department being overhauled.
With general manager Alex Anthopoulos now running the baseball operations department, the Braves have adopted a much more enhanced analytical approach, which has already altered some of the Spring Training preparations.
• Spring Training:Info | Tickets | Gear
"We went through a lot of change in the offseason, no need to elaborate," Snitker said. "There are a lot of new faces running around here. We're being introduced to the analytics side of the game now. There's a lot of information for [the players and coaches]. It's going to be presented to them in a good way."
Anthopoulos lured Alex Tamin from the Dodgers to serve as his director of Major League operations and oversee the analytics department. Tamin was on the field late last week providing information to third-base coach Ron Washington about how he could alter some defensive drills for outfielders. He has also suggested that the Braves join the growing list of teams who push back the start time of their Spring Training workouts to provide the players a chance to get more sleep.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Tamin will remain in constant contact with players and coaches, providing analytical information in a manner that could help them make beneficial changes to a variety of things, including lineup construction, a pitcher's two-strike approach or a hitter's swing plane.
While performing similar duties for the Dodgers, Tamin drew compliments from Braves veteran pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who spent the past three seasons with Los Angeles.
"It's all new to me," Snitker said. "That's what I told [Anthopoulos]. I said, 'You've got a bunch of dogs you're teaching new tricks to.' I'm learning it all. It's interesting. It's been cool. I know, so far with our player interactions, it's been nothing but positive and really good."
Just like old times
While Chipper Jones was providing some tips as Johan Camargo and Rio Ruiz were taking grounders at third base Monday morning, Andruw Jones was on another field working with Ender Inciarte, Ronald Acuna Jr. and the other outfielders in Atlanta's camp.
"It's great having those guys here," Snitker said. "They'll take an active part and I want them to. I want them to be out there and let these guys know what they're seeing and if they see somebody, talk to somebody."
• Chipper: Acuna is 'way ahead of me'
The Braves bring Phil Niekro, Gene Garber, Tim Hudson and others to camp to serve as special instructors for a week at a time. But the Jones boys are actually just fulfilling the special assistant roles they were given within the past few years.
Along with spending time with the team during Spring Training, the Jones boys and Fred McGriff, who is also employed as a special assistant, could spend time scouting amateur players or providing assistance to prospects within the organization.
"For me, it's more than just inviting them down for a specific amount of time," Snitker said. "Those guys are free to come and go and be here. We can use them. I feel good about calling them at some time and getting them back here."
Chipper plans to remain with the club through the end of February and then possibly return before Spring Training ends. Andruw has told the club he may spend the next three weeks in camp.
High praise for Camargo
Martin Prado stands as one of Chipper Jones' favorite all-time teammates, and Camargo has drawn comparisons to Prado. Thus, it wasn't surprising to hear the newly-elected Hall Famer showering praise upon Camargo after Monday's workout.
"I'm a huge Camargo fan," the Braves' former third baseman said. "Huge. I think since I came back in the fold after I retired, he's probably been the most improved player I've seen in this organization. He was a guy who was a slap hitter from both sides of the plate. It was like he was swinging a wet newspaper at the plate."
Even though he's stood as the organization's best defensive infielder since Andrelton Simmons was traded, Camargo's bid to become a Major Leaguer was certainly in doubt when he produced a sub .700 OPS at both the Double-A and Class A levels. But he physically matured by the time he arrived at Spring Training last year and surprised many as he hit .299 and constructed a .783 OPS in 256 plate appearances with Atlanta last year.
As things stand, Camargo, 24, appears to be the favorite to open the season as Atlanta's third baseman. But there's a chance he could move to shortstop if Dansby Swanson's 2016 struggles extend into this season.
"[Camargo] has always had the ability to catch and throw at short and he's now playing third," Chipper said. "The fact he is a shortstop and they're trying to find a place for him to play says a lot about what they think about him."