LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As he walked toward the clubhouse after throwing a bullpen session and some live batting practice early last week, Tim Hudson complained about the command of his offspeed pitches.
One week later, the Braves ace was proving it doesn't take the prepared veterans long to overcome the frustrations that the early days of Spring Training can bring.
"Huddy looks great," former Braves manager Bobby Cox said as he sat in a golf cart and watched Hudson complete a round of live batting practice.
Skipper Fredi Gonzalez was also impressed after watching Hudson's session on one of the back fields.
"I thought he was nails," Gonzalez said. "I thought he accomplished everything he set out to do. [Derek Lowe] did the same thing yesterday with his [side session] and live batting practice."
With the Grapefruit League season beginning with Saturday's 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Gonzalez has gained the sense that his starting pitchers are ready to start facing some opponents.
"I think we're tired of seeing the same color of uniforms," Gonzalez said. "Games couldn't start soon enough."
Chipper keeping calm about CBA negotiations
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Chipper Jones experienced the 1994 work stoppage, and he remembers how close baseball came to enduring another strike during the 2002 season.
After Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, visited Braves camp Wednesday morning, the veteran third baseman was given little reason to be concerned about the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
"I didn't get the sense that it is dire," Jones said. "I've been in a work stoppage before, and the tone was completely different."
During a 90-minute meeting, Weiner discussed the possibility that topics such as arbitration, realignment and adding another round of playoffs might come up while negotiating the new CBA, which is set to expire Dec. 11.
"It's [mostly] about process," Weiner told reporters in St. Louis after his session with the Cardinals. "These meetings are not the place to set policy or to determine bargaining proposals. What I'm talking about here is explaining what preparations have been done, the different levels of player involvement, what our negotiating committee does, what our executive board does, what role the player membership has, how they can get information over the course of the year, and then some of the mechanics of bargaining."
Former players Bobby Bonilla, Tony Clark and the other Players Association representatives present told players that because the contract expires this year, it might be in their best interest not to make any long-term investments until they're absolutely certain an agreement will be reached.
"It was basically an informational thing, telling us now isn't the time to go buy a 5,000-acre ranch or a $2 million house or a $100,000 car," Jones said. "Now is the time to start preparing for the future, if there is a work stoppage in the future. You hope it doesn't come to that. We're certainly going to do our part from the Players Association perspective to get it done."
Ross' humor breaks monotony of spring camp
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When veteran closer Billy Wagner arrived in Braves camp last year and began talking about former Mets teammate David Wright, backup catcher David Ross yelled "Turn the page" a couple of times and caused many of his teammates to roar with laughter.
While Wagner might have been momentarily offended, he quickly came to realize that he was introducing himself to a new clubhouse and a group of guys who have developed a strong camaraderie while ripping on other teammates -- and even, occasionally, the new manager.
Because they were previously together with the Marlins, Ross has chosen to have fun with the fact that manager Fredi Gonzalez and second baseman Dan Uggla share a close bond. The veteran catcher often playfully asks Uggla, "How's your dad doing?"
When Gonzalez yelled, "Come on, Danny" after Uggla began a round of batting practice Tuesday, Ross laughed, looked at his manager and said, "Oh yeah, cheer for your son."
Gonzalez has taken the ribbing well and is well aware of the fact that it's not all fun and games for Ross, who has proved to be an invaluable backup to All-Star catcher Brian McCann the past two years.
"David adds that quality in the clubhouse that kind of keeps everybody loose," Gonzalez said. "But if you watch him, he's probably one of the hardest workers out there. He just keeps everything moving. He breaks up the monotony of Spring Training."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.