Braves inspired by Washington's words of wisdom

When it comes to playing in the infield, Ron Washington is an encyclopedia. When it comes to life itself, he's more of a quote book.

"You never know when you may say something that may help them do their day that day," said Washington.

The first-year Braves third base coach is seen every day putting in hours with Atlanta's infielders, fine-tuning fundamentals. What few see are the sheets of paper that players have come to expect and enjoy.

Washington says, since his time with the Oakland Athletics in the mid-90's, he's been leaving quotes written on sheets of paper in his players lockers every day. As the tradition continued, quotes started pouring in from friends and family, he'd get quote books as gifts and more. The man they call "Wash" provided the words of wisdom, and the Braves are embracing the inspiration.

"I love it," said Braves first and third baseman Freddie Freeman. "I read it every day. For him to spend that much time, wanting us to read quotes and be better people, it's a testament to who he is."

On a day in mid-June after a tough loss, a quote from Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung awaited players, saying, "I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become." That could be an appropriate quote for Washington himself, who has had public struggles in his marriage and with drug use. Those are in the past now, and serve as a reminder for Washington to not take his life, nor those close to him, for granted.

"When I had my issues in my life, [I had] support and people cared for me," said Washington. "People that loved me. People that knew I went in a different direction. They knew I could get myself back on track. Support is what it's all about."

Braves players have taken to the quotes; Freeman said when the papers were late one day, he and others asked Washington what the hold up was. Second baseman Sean Rodriguez has worked his way back to the MLB after a serious car accident in January that led to shoulder surgery. He keeps all the quotes in a stack in his locker.

"I've never gotten this in my career, somebody doing this," said Rodriguez. "People would tell me things, absolutely. But to come into the clubhouse, it's in your chair, [you think], 'OK let's get my day started right.' Read this and get going."

On June 23rd, it was a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, saying, "A man is the product of his thoughts: what he thinks, he becomes." The Braves beat the Brewers 5-4 that night.

As for his favorite quote, one he went to in tough times? Washington says it's one he tells players all the time: "do exactly what the game asks you to do." For Washington, that includes words of wisdom for his team.

"Sometimes it's hard to ask for help," said Washington. "Genuine friends ... you don't have to ask."