LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The youth revolution isn't quite ready to arrive in Atlanta's clubouse, but it's close. This Spring Training the Braves' talented young prospects share space with a group of key veterans, and while baseball is occasionally discussed, cultures combine in other ways as well.
"I was jamming Al Green yesterday," said 23-year-old pitcher Tyrell Jenkins to 33-year-old locker neighbor Michael Bourn.
"Al Green is before my time!" insisted the outfielder Bourn. "I'm not that old!"
As the team gets ready for 2016, young and old get to know each other; including the surprising theings their counterparts don't know.
"I do know I've dropped a couple names, a guy like Ron Gant, everyone's like, 'who?'" said 35-year-old outfielder Nick Swisher. "I'm like, 'wait a minute.'"
There are some laughs exchanged over movie references and smart phone minutiae, but really, most of the talk is about baseball. Fredi Gonzalez set up the locker room so that, like Bourn and his neighbors Jenkins and 22-year-old outfielder Mallex Smith, veterans can show younger players the ropes.
"Infielder, infielder, infielder, two infielders, infielder," said 22-year-old shortstop Dansby Swanson, pointing at the lockers on either side of his. Included in those nearby is likely starter at shortstop and MLB veteran Erick Aybar as well as fellow Georgia-native Gordon Beckham who is competing to start at third base.
Gonzalez hopes the veterans teach their counterparts "how to handle yourself, how to be a professional" as they move through Spring Training and beyond.
"The biggest thing I can say to any young guy coming up is go in there, do your work, be quiet and be a sponge," said 32-year-old outfielder Nick Markakis, one of the players listed by Gonzalez as a model of work ethic for young players to imimtate.
Braves fans can be confident their young stars-to-be have strong mentors in the clubhouse; and they can also be sure conversations will often stray from baseball to who has better taste in movies, music and more.
"You're right about that, Al Green is a good mix," said Bourn to Jenkins and Smith, his young clubhouse neighbors, "but I'm a little younger than that."