ROME, Ga. - Barrett Kleinknecht was released by the Braves organization earlier this year.
"It was four days left," said Kleinknecht. "Honestly ... the best spring [training] I've ever had in my life. I was just smashing the ball."
Now, later in the year, he isn't angry, frustrated or upset. In fact, he never was.
"It almost was like a burden lifted," said Kleinknecht.
The South Carolina-native started in the Braves system in 2010. He's played in the minor leagues since, including time with the G-Braves last year. While he hit well this spring, he also said he saw the writing on the wall -- players with big league experience filling up the AAA roster.
Kleinknecht's mind started thinking of what would come next when a team executive asked if he'd stick around, but as a coach. Though his father was a high school baseball coach for nearly 4 decades in South Carolina, he hadn't considered the career. He gave it a shot, spending time with the Carolina Mudcats, before spending most of the season with the single-A Rome Braves.
"My wife was in town, we talked about it," said Kleinknecht. "She cried, of course, because she enjoyed watching me play. Now, she says, 'I wish you would've become a coach earlier, you're so happy after the games!'"
The Rome Braves just clinched a South Atlantic League playoff spot. Kleinknecht isn't sure what his future holds, and isn't necessarily hoping to one day coach in the majors, but has enjoyed his switch to teaching instead of playing.