02/12/2013 1:47 PM ET
Gonzalez confident new leadership will emerge
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There is no doubt the Braves lost some clubhouse leadership courtesy of Chipper Jones' retirement and the offseason departures of David Ross, Eric Hinske and Martin Prado. But manager Fredi Gonzalez is confident Tim Hudson, Brian McCann and some of his other veterans will pick up the slack.
"That will take care of itself," Gonzalez said. "I think some guys get mistaken that a leader is Ray Lewis, the guy who comes out of the tunnel, does his dance and pumps up the guys. In baseball, you can't do that 162 times. It's showing up and playing the game the way we want them to play the game."
As he prepares for his fourth Major League season, Jason Heyward has provided the indication that he is willing to accept more of a leadership role. The 23-year-old outfielder impressed the club's executives and coaches with the dedication and determination he displayed with his offseason conditioning program the past two winters.
"Last year, [Heyward] showed what he was made of with his determination, his professionalism and his work ethic," Braves president John Schuerholz said. "By the way, that hasn't decreased at all. If anything, what we've witnessed is an increase in this guy's intensity and determination to be good and a productive player for the Braves."
Upton brothers arrive, take BP with Heyward
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- B.J. Upton will experience a number of firsts as he fulfills his dream of playing with his brother and gets used to being a Braves player this year. The veteran outfielder got a few of those firsts out of the way Tuesday, when he made his first appearance at Spring Training.
When Upton arrived at Champion Stadium, he found his locker located next to his brother Justin's. The two brothers joined fellow outfielder Jason Heyward for an impressive batting-practice session that showed the potential strength of Atlanta's new-look outfield.
"This is something I've been looking forward to, but we've got about eight months of it," B.J. Upton said. "So it's something I'm sure I'll get used to."
While he had taken batting practice with his brother during the offseason, this marked the first time Upton gained a better sense of the impressive power created by Heyward's left-handed swing.
"I haven't seen anything like that," Upton said. "I played here [at Champion Stadium] in Double-A, and the wind blows straight in. For him to cut the wind like that with the wind blowing to left, that is tough to do. That got me pretty excited for the season."
Upton signed a franchise-record five-year, $75.25 million contract with the Braves in November. The 28-year-old outfielder had spent each of his previous 10 professional seasons with the Rays.
"It's a change of scenery for me," Upton said. "I'm part of a pretty good ballclub. There is kind of a lot of hype surrounding us right now, so it's kind of good to get out there and just talk and not really worry about that. I'm just going to come out, have fun and get acclimated with the guys."
When Justin Upton arrived at camp on Monday, he said he had told his brother he was crazy to want to make the 45-minute commute from his Tampa-area home to Atlanta's Spring Training complex. This is the first Florida-based Spring Training for Justin, who spent each of his previous seven professional seasons with the D-backs in Arizona.
"It's a piece of cake," B.J. Upton said of his daily commute. "It's pretty quick. I've done it. I know what the drive is like. He is new to it."
Medlen reports for first Spring Training as father
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Exactly one week after becoming a father for the first time, Kris Medlen arrived at Spring Training on Tuesday with a little more hair than he had in his younger, less-domesticated days.
"Last year, I came with the married guy combover," Medlen said. "Now it's the dad combover."
Medlen said he has been in a bit of a euphoric state since his wife, Nicole, gave birth to their first child, Max Michael, last week in Atlanta. The new mother and baby are expected to travel to the Orlando area later this week and stay for the remainder of Spring Training.
"I feel awesome working out and all of that stuff," Medlen said. "I worked out extremely hard just like I did last year, but the last week I've lost a little consistency with all of that just because I was at the hospital for three days. I think I will take it a little slower the first couple of days, but I'm ready to go physically."
A native of Southern California, Medlen said his son has not caused him to lose much sleep over the last week.
"The first night at the house, I slept nine hours," Medlen said. "I got up for 30 seconds when he started screaming and then I went right back to bed. That's my earthquake training from when I was younger."
• Manager Fredi Gonzalez sent Michael Bourn a congratulatory text early Tuesday morning, when he learned the former Braves outfielder signed a four-year deal with the Indians. "You root for those kinds of players," said Gonzalez, who sent Bourn messages over the past few months to simply show his appreciation for what Bourn contributed during the previous two seasons.
• Now that Bourn has signed, the Braves' first pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft will be either the 31st or 32nd overall selection. Atlanta positioned itself for this compensation by offering Bourn a one-year, $13 million qualifying offer in November. The offer was made with the confidence he would decline it. The Braves lost their original first-round pick when they signed B.J. Upton, who declined a qualifying offer made by the Rays.
• Juan Francisco reported to camp on Tuesday. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was the only projected starting position player who had not yet arrived in camp by Tuesday afternoon.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.