Notes: Braves confident in Thorman
Club believes young slugger will be able to replace LaRoche
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Nobody is expecting Scott Thorman to look as smooth as Adam LaRoche. But at the same time, it doesn't appear the Braves are the least bit apprehensive about replacing LaRoche with Thorman.
Since they traded LaRoche to the Pirates in January, the Braves have provided every indication that Thorman will be their everyday first baseman. But even with all of these assurances, the 25-year-old Canadian hasn't lost any of his competitive fire.
Every day over the past week, he's arrived at the ballpark by 8 a.m. ET to begin working on his defensive skills at first base.
"It's just the way that he is," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "His makeup is about as good as you'll ever see on a player."
There was a time when Thorman's defensive skills were questioned. But over the past two years, his dedication to improving has allowed him to lose the tag of being a potential defensive liability.
Brian Snitker, who managed Triple-A Richmond last year and now serves as Atlanta's third-base coach, told Cox that Thorman showed no significant flaws while playing 51 games at first base for Richmond in 2006.
"He never even worried about him," Cox said. "[Thorman] is plenty good right now."
One aspect of Thorman's game that isn't being questioned is his power. At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, he has a big swing that could someday allow him to hit 30-plus homers at the Major League level. While combining for 437 at-bats between Richmond and Atlanta last year, he hit 20 homers.
"Thor is Captain Caveman," Chipper Jones said. "He's got the big lumberjack logo on him. He hit .290 in Triple-A and had 20-plus homers between the two stops. There's no reason to think he can't do it again."
Jones switches to Mizuno: After winning nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards while using gloves made by Wilson, Andruw Jones has decided to begin utilizing gloves made by Mizuno.
"[Wilson] never gave me the publicity that I should have gotten," Jones said. "I wasn't on the cover of their magazines or on the front of their Web site. Mizuno has told me that they would do all of that."
When asked if the switch would force him to make any adjustments, Jones said that almost all outfield gloves, regardless of the manufacturer, are the same.
Diaz's playful reference came with the fact that his wife, Leslee, gave birth to their first child, Nathan, on Dec. 30. But while he's certainly being a proud father, his increased is mainly a product of an extended weightlifting program.
Heeding the suggestion of strength coach Frank Fultz, Diaz began his lifting program in September and stuck with it through the offseason. The extra month of work should help him add even more pop to a bat that produced a .327 batting average and a .475 slugging percentage in 297 at-bats last year.
Even with the success he enjoyed of 2006, Diaz still finds himself competing with Craig Wilson and Ryan Langerhans for playing time in left field.
"My No. 1 goal here is to break camp with the big club," Diaz said. "It will work itself out. Even if you're not the starter in left field, if you're on Bobby's team, you're not going to rot on the bench. He's going to find a way to get you at-bats."
Glavine influences Woodward: Long before signing with them in December, Chris Woodward had a desire to play for the Braves. He respected their winning tradition and had an appreciation for the way that Cox uses all of his players.
His interest was fueled by conversations he had the past couple of years with former Mets teammate Tom Glavine, who played for Cox from 1990-2002.
"As a backup, you can't have a better manager," said Woodward, who is targeted to serve as one of Atlanta's utility infielders. "There are certain managers who know how to play their team, and he's one of them. He trusts his guys and trusts them to go out there and play."
Although he hit just .216 in 222 at-bats for the Mets last year, Woodward was bothered by an ailing shoulder. But since having offseason surgery, he hasn't experienced any further discomfort.
Braves bits: Because the players and coaches will be undergoing physicals, workouts on Saturday and Sunday will begin at 1 p.m. ET. ... Mike Hampton is scheduled to throw live batting practice again on Saturday. The left-hander, who is coming back from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, felt minimal discomfort on Wednesday while throwing batting practice for the first time this spring. ... Phil Stockman, who suffered a hamstring injury in January, felt no discomfort while throwing his first bullpen session on Thursday.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.