Memories of disappointing playoff exit motivating Braves

While no one in the Braves' spring training clubhouse is eager to spend much time revisiting the end of last year's playoff run, one sentiment seems clear:

"That's a bad taste from last year's playoffs," said first baseman Freddie Freeman.

After losing 13-1 to the Cardinals in last year's National League Division Series, Atlanta is clear that the bar is set higher this time around.

"Making it to the playoffs isn't something we should pride ourselves on," said shortstop Dansby Swanson. "It's about winning."

The team's position players reported for camp on Monday; though many of them arrived to North Port, Florida earlier than required. The first full-squad workout is on Tuesday.

With back-to-back NL East titles under their belt and extra motivation from last season, the Braves are confident they'll again have a say in what should be a very competitive division.

"I think you have to feel optimistic when you have Ozzie [Albies] and [Ronald] Acuña leading off, some of the arms we have," said closer Mark Melancon. "We're feeling good."

The Braves are also just fine if outsiders don't see it that way. They're used to playing the underdog, with experts picking their high-budget division rivals just like in seasons past.

"Everyone sees those little projections and all that stuff, dropping us 14 wins from last year," said Freeman, after Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections predicted Atlanta to win 14 fewer games than last season. "I don't see that happening. "I think we've got a great team again. World Series or nothing, I think that's every single year for us now."