03/01/12 12:33 PM EST
Country star Jason Aldean practices with team
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"To get to come out here today is a big honor for me," Aldean said. "It was a lot of fun."
Aldean has been a fan of the Braves dating back to his childhood in Macon, Ga. Over the past few years, he has developed a friendship with Brian McCann and gone hunting with both Tim Hudson and Jones. He was in camp for the filming of Day Jobs, a reality show that will air on Great American Country this fall.
"He's the best celebrity I've seen," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We get a lot of celebrities coming through here to do a lot of this stuff. He's by far, the best I've been around at doing that kind of stuff."
Aldean seemed to be at ease as he picked a few low throws and took batting practice.
"I told them I felt a lot like Willie Mays Hays (from the movie Major League)," Aldean said. "I hit a lot of pop ups. I started to drop down and do some pushups."
Braves have mixed feelings on added playoff
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There are a number of Braves who wish Major League Baseball would have added an additional Wild Card team before the start of last season. But there are still some concerned about the potential setup as Major League Baseball attempts to add another playoff team this year.
Major League Baseball wants to add a second Wild Card team in both the American and National Leagues this year. The two Wild Card teams in the respective leagues would play a one-game playoff to determine which team advances to the Division Series. Negotiations with the Players Association are ongoing.
"I would have taken it [last year]," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "[The Cardinals] still want to play right now?"
Most Braves are not as bothered about the possibility of adding a playoff team as they are the fact that a one-game playoff would determine which Wild Card team advances. A true traditionalist, Chipper Jones does not like either concept.
"I'm not for it," Jones said. "I think the elite teams deserve to make it to the playoffs. Pretty soon, Major League Baseball is going to be like the NBA. There will be more teams that make it than don't. The season is too long as it is. Now you're going to give teams more travel. I don't agree with it, but we're just a piece of meat. We do what they tell us to."
Under the proposed setup, the Braves would have traveled to St. Louis last year to play the Cardinals in the same one-game playoff that would have been necessary had they won their regular season finale and finished with an identical record as the Cardinals. Brandon Beachy would have likely faced Kyle Lohse and the Braves could have salvaged all they had squandered in September by winning just that one game.
"I like the one game for all of the marbles kind of thing because it's either put up or shut up," Braves backup catcher David Ross said. "It's going to be fun. The fans are going to be tuned in. It will get a lot of media attention. It will be a lot of fun."
There is certainly reason to argue against the fairness of a team advancing to the Division Series because it had won one game against a team that might have been five games or better than it over the course of the 162-game season.
"That would stink, but what if you're the other team?" Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "You can look at it either way. I think teams are getting more competitive now. There's a lot more parity."
While conceding the Braves struggled to instill any sort of confidence as they squandered an 8 1/2-game lead in September, Tim Hudson believes the one game playoff could have completely altered the way October developed. Even if the Braves had lost that playoff game, Hudson believes the one extra game would have taxed the Cardinals' pitching staff too much entering the Division Series.
"If they had the extra Wild Card team last year, I don't think the Cardinals would have won the World Series," Hudson said. "They might not get past the first round. Anything can happen in one game. We could have gone up there and beat them. It didn't look like we could have beat anybody. But you never know what could happen in one game."
• First baseman Freddie Freeman was walking around with just a slight limp and a support sleeve on his right knee. The Braves will likely keep him sidelined for at least a week before allowing him to ease his way back on the field.
• Gonzalez said Tommy Hanson might throw either another bullpen session or live batting practice on Friday. Hanson will not make the first turn through the Grapefruit League rotation as he continues to make up for the time he lost after suffering a Grade 1 concussion on Feb. 20.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.