LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Braves pitcher R.A. Dickey has a G-rated and sarcasm-laden message for the baseball world.
"We still stink," said Dickey of his new team. "We're terrible. We're still stinky."
Dickey doesn't want anyone paying too close attention to the Braves, because they might look better than you expect.
Coming off a season where they tied for the fewest wins in the National League, veteran pitching reinforcements have Atlanta cleaning up a big problem from a year ago. In 2016, 13 different pitchers started games for the Braves. Add in Dickey, veterans Bartolo Colon and Jaime Garcia and the starting rotation will look a lot different; and more stable.
Combine that with a lineup that surged towards the end of last year, and maybe the wait for winning will be short for Braves fans.
"I don't look at this as a rebuild," said outfielder Matt Kemp, a late-season addition last year who helped propel the offense. "I look at this as a team that can compete."
Dickey says, if veterans like the new ones on the pitching staff, plus Kemp and other position players like Brandon Phillips play up to their resumes, this year could be "special."
"I'm not making predictions, but being low man on the totem pole is not a bad place to be at the beginning of things," said Dickey.