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Aaron on hand as Fredi addresses Braves

Hall of Famer believes club has a bright future
MLB.com @mlbbowman

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Hank Aaron completed one of his early morning workouts at Turner Field on Jan. 30, he welcomed the opportunity to speak with some of the young Braves prospects who were present for the club's FanFest.

Aaron's larger-than-life presence was once again felt when he and fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Cox were among those who gathered in the outfield grass at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex on Thursday morning to hear Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez address his team before the club's first full-squad workout.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Hank Aaron completed one of his early morning workouts at Turner Field on Jan. 30, he welcomed the opportunity to speak with some of the young Braves prospects who were present for the club's FanFest.

Aaron's larger-than-life presence was once again felt when he and fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Cox were among those who gathered in the outfield grass at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex on Thursday morning to hear Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez address his team before the club's first full-squad workout.

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"It brought chills when I introduced Bobby and Hank," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It really is an honor to be around Hank."

While Cox has attended Spring Training on an annual basis and remained a regular visitor to Turner Field since ending his legendary managerial career with the Braves in 2010, most of Aaron's interaction with the coaches and players has been limited to when they cross paths during one of his workouts at Turner Field.

Still, the 82-year-old Aaron religiously watches and keeps tabs on the organization with which he spent 21 of his 23 Major League seasons. He stands among those who are looking forward to watching the growth of many of the highly regarded prospects the Braves have compiled during their current rebuilding process.

"I think the team has done well," Aaron said. "I think it's just going to be a matter of time. What people are going to have to remember is that you're going to have two teams in the World Series and that's all. The Braves right now are in a growing mode, and I think they have done well as far as bringing up some of the young players.

"I think some of these young players are going to do well, and I'd just like for the fans to understand, just give us a chance."

The highly energetic Mallex Smith was one of the many Braves players who appreciated the opportunity to meet Aaron, who has traditionally come to Spring Training just to watch the first full-squad workout. He did not speak to the team as a whole on Thursday, but his presence was certainly felt.

Odds and ends

• Gonzalez said he was encouraged by the increased mobility Nick Swisher showed while completing Thursday's workout without either of the two bulky knee braces he wore last year. Swisher came to camp confident that he has distanced himself from the lingering effects of having both knees surgically repaired in August 2014.

• Fresh off his Super Bowl experience with the Carolina Panthers, Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen brought his family to watch Thursday's workout. Olsen developed a friendship with Gordon Beckham back when he was playing for the Bears and Beckham was with the White Sox.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

 

Atlanta Braves