NORTH PORT, Fla. – Nothing like a little encouragement from Hammerin' Hank himself to show the way at spring training for the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves welcomed Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron to their first full-squad workout and named a street for him at their new complex Tuesday, starting off a season full of high expectations.
"It's awesome, we're so appreciative," manager Brian Snitker said. "We talked in the winter of him coming down. I told the guys and Hank we'd like to have him around more."
The two-time NL East champions intend to put some pressure on themselves this year.
The Braves signed outfielder Marcell Ozuna, starting pitcher Cole Hamels and reliever Will Smith in the offseason, and gave contract extensions to general manager Alex Anthopolous, Snitker and his coaching staff.
That's all intended to boost a team that went 97-65 last season, but lost to Ozuna and the St. Louis Cardinals in a five-game Division Series.
Atlanta hasn't won a playoff series since 2001, with one-and-done showings the last nine years it reached the postseason. The Braves last won the World Series in 1995 -- before that, it was 1957 when Aaron helped spur a Game 7 victory at Yankee Stadium.
With star first baseman Freddie Freeman proclaiming “World Series or nothing," the tone is set.