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Latest from Logan Booker

    Athens, GA - There’s a popular term around Athens, Georgia these days that also stretches as far as the Georgia Bulldog footprint reaches: “Fire Mark Fox.” But could the job of the head coach of the oftentimes struggling UGA men’s basketball team be safer than we all think? Like, much safer? Let me explain.  I took the time to read an article from Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports in which he cites his sources regarding what could happen once details emerge in the ongoing FBI investigations into seemingly countless NCAA basketball programs both major and not. The article is terrifying for many living around states like Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Pennsylvania, etc., and not because programs in those states are specifically named, but rather language that speculates so many of the top schools in contention today are eventually going to be outed as some of the most corrupt in a sport that is widely considered one of the most corrupt in all of sports.  A fun line from one of Thamel’s sources in the article states - and I paraphrase - ‘If the findings are released before the NCAA Tournament, then Tennessee-Chattanooga could be a No. 2 seed come March.’ That’s a clever way of saying that nobody is safe, and apparently many at the top are indeed about to be in really, really hot water.  This is where the UGA basketball program and coach Mark Fox come into play, at least in my mind. If anybody cares to make a wager with me, I would be more than willing to agree to do something extremely embarrassing or degrading if it ever comes to light that the UGA basketball program is in trouble with the FBI or the NCAA. I have been around the program long enough and know the hierarchy of UGA Athletics well enough to feel extremely confident that UGA fans can sleep easy the night before these FBI findings are released - which could be any day, it could be as long as a year from now. We just don’t know.  UGA has struggled lately, yes. I’ve watched spurts of basketball taking place in Stegeman Coliseum and on other courts around the SEC that I am not convinced could score more points than Clarke Central High School. But I’ve also seen spurts that look like the NCAA Tournament contender we all expected going into this season put together good wins (yes, plural) against Florida, Marquette, Alabama, St. Mary’s, and Georgia Tech. But the on-court performances have little to nothing to do with my new theory on the status of Mark Fox in Athens.  I believe every program in the NCAA should be playing “wait and see.” I know Ole Miss just fired its head coach Andy Kennedy after bringing the Rebels (no, Black Bears, wait - I think it’s still Rebels) close to the NCAA Tournament many times over a decade, invited in twice and another six times into the NIT, but never able to take the program over the hurdle to being a national contender. Does that sound familiar? Dawg fans? I thought so. But what if - hear me out - Ole Miss already knows something we don’t know about the FBI investigations. You don’t have to look too far into former football coaches phone records and other major allegations to remember that Ole Miss isn't writing any books on morality and how to do things the right way these days.  What if Georgia pulled the trigger and fired Mark Fox after a disappointing finish to this season, then went and hired some up-and-coming young coach or even a veteran many will hope brings a culture of winning with them to Athens? Is it honestly worth the risk locking a coach into a new contract that may soon have their name plastered in the headlines with “FBI Investigation Reveals...” next to it? Again, you’d like to think the vetting of a new coach would be thorough, but the ominous tone of sources who know how dark the cloud over NCAA Basketball is about to be leads one to wonder if any move is worth the risk. Flat out and simply put - nobody. knows. how. bad. this. could. get.   Thamel’s article also cites sources who thoroughly believe the landscape of college basketball, its recruiting, and as stated “lottery pick players’” eligibility could be rocked and realigned. It leaves one to wonder just how impactful it could be for a program like Georgia, that consistently sits on the proverbial “bubble” of being good, but is flat out being beaten by better teams. Oh, and recruiting is already good right now in Athens. Very good. With commitments from a pair of the state of Georgia’s best in the 2018 class, and what many are saying will be one of Mark Fox’s best recruits ever in a 2019 commitment from 5-star point guard Ashton Hagans out of Covington, Ga, there’s legitimate hope in the talent department.  And many will quickly point out that talent hasn’t always been a problem for Fox, but do you need a refresher on players from the state of Georgia that have been lured to major programs out of state with what may actually have been lures too good to pass up - you know what I’m sayin’? Sure, that’s all speculation at this point but the tea leaves are currently reading that something just ain’t right. If my inner-Nostradmous proves to be true and Georgia is safe when the FBI findings are eventually released, then Georgia could instantaneously become a safe school in the eyes of a lot of talent looking to play college hoops. Especially in the talent-rich back yard between Cloudland Canyon and Jekyll Island and Bainbridge and Hartwell. So while the UGA basketball team  will likely look bad a few more times this season, and in all likelihood have a short trip to St. Louis next month for the SEC Basketball Tournament, think about the big picture of college basketball as your little fingers tweet the popular phrase these days calling for Fox’s job. Because I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a situation being monitored on many levels, not just in terms of wins and loses. But more like the FBI. Let it all soak in, why don’t ya.  **Shameless plug time!: Check out my new podcast “The Second String Podcast” which I do with our sister station 106.1 Your Georgia Country’s Morning Show host Walker. We are just two guys who wish we were famous sports radio personalities talking sports. You can listen by clicking the link to the Podcast on this website’s On Demand tab. Thanks!
  • ATHENS----Georgia opens the 2018 baseball season Friday at Foley Field against Georgia Southern with first pitch slated for 5 p.m.   Under the direction of Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin, Georgia returns all nine starting position players from a year ago and 14 pitchers who saw action including two members of its starting rotation. Last year, Georgia started five freshmen on Opening Day (Tucker Bradley-LF, Cam Shepherd-SS, Aaron Schunk-3B, Will Proctor-2B, and Tucker Maxwell-CF) the most since 2009 when five started. Shepherd earned Freshman All-SEC honors after starting all 57 games and batting .307-5-28 plus posted a .953 fielding percentage.   In 2017, Georgia went 25-32 overall and 11-19 in the SEC. The Bulldogs posted a strong finish, winning their last three SEC series, all over ranked teams including two on the road. Georgia’s run to qualify for the SEC Tournament in this span featured series wins at No. 4 Kentucky, versus No. 6 Miss. State in Athens and at No. 30 South Carolina, going 6-3 in that stretch. The 2001 season marked the last time Georgia had posted three consecutive SEC series wins over ranked teams, that year they came over #23 Florida (2-1), #16 USC (2-1) and at #14 Tennessee (3-0).   In a preseason vote of the SEC coaches, the 2018 Bulldogs are picked to finish 5th in the SEC Eastern Division behind projected league champion and defending NCAA champion Florida, followed by UK, VU and USC. Arkansas is picked to win the West. This is the fifth season at UGA for Coach Stricklin and 14th overall as a head coach. Stricklin will turn 46 Saturday. Scott Daeley is in his fifth year as the hitting coach/recruiting coordinator. Sean Kenny is Georgia’s new pitching coach while Pete Hughes is the new volunteer coach.    *UGA Rotation: Georgia’s season-opening rotation will feature junior LHP Kevin Smith (5-5, 4.87 ERA), freshman RHP Emerson Hancock and senior RHP Chase Adkins (6-7, 3.95 ERA). In his last three SEC starts in 2017, all against ranked opponents, Smith went 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA, beating No. 4 Kentucky in Lexington, No. 6 Miss. State in Athens, and No. 30 USC in Columbia. In his career, Smith is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts versus the Eagles. Adkins did not factor in the decision in his start against the Eagles last year (6IP, 3H, 0R).    *The Captains: Junior OF/C Michael Curry (.298-10-46) has been named to the 2018 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC First Team as the DH. He was a First Team All-SEC selection in 2017 when he started all 57 games at either DH or catcher. Also, he made the 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District team as a Dean’s List student majoring in Computer Science. Curry and senior OF Keegan McGovern (.291-2-21) are the team captains for 2018. McGovern is an Academic All-SEC selection as a Biology major who has started 154 games in his Bulldog career.   *Play Ball! Baseball is the oldest varsity sport on the UGA campus, dating back to 1886. The Bulldogs have an all-time record of 2,221-1,738-24 in this their 131st season.   *A Look at GS: The Eagles, coached by Rodney Hennon, are picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference Eastern Division behind South Alabama and Coastal Carolina. The Eagles went 38-21 (18-12 SBC) last year and return all three weekend starters including RHP Seth Shulman (8-0, 3.34 ERA) who earned Freshman All-America honors. The other hurlers are junior RHPs: Brian Eichhorn (3-5, 4.33 ERA) and Chase Cohen (4-3, 4.81 ERA). They have four returning starters in the field including top hitter sophomore Steve Curry (.312-0-21) and power threat redshirt junior Tyler Martin (.291-9-43).    UGA Pitching Matchups For The GS Series (2017 Stats) Friday at 5 p.m.: UGA junior LHP Kevin Smith (5-5, 4.87) vs. Brian Eichhorn (3-5, 4.33), RHP, Jr. Saturday at 1 p.m.: UGA freshman RHP Emerson Hancock. vs. Seth Shuman (8-0, 3.34), RHP, So. Sunday at 1 p.m.: UGA senior RHP Chase Adkins (6-7, 3.95) vs. TBA    Television/Radio For GS Series TV: Friday-Sunday on SECN+ (Matt Stewart & Jason Jacobs) TV Links via WatchESPN App. Fri. http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3282053/georgia-southern-vs-georgia-baseball Sat. http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3282050/georgia-southern-vs-georgia-baseball Sun: http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3282036/georgia-southern-vs-georgia-baseball   Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG College (Jeff Dantzler & David Johnston) Stations: 960 AM-WRFC and selected affiliates (check your local listings), also via the Georgia Bulldogs app and TuneIn app. Additional Coverage on Twitter: @BaseballUGA   Tickets/Promotions/Clear Bag Policy Foley Field – Gates/Ticket Booth open @ 3:00p.m. on Friday; @ 11 a.m. on Sat./Sun. Reserved Seat Tickets: $8 General Admission Tickets: $5 -Order online or by calling 1-877-542-1231 UGA Student Tickets: Free Admission with valid UGA Student ID Card -UGA Student Gate is located off Rutherford Street Friday Promotion: First 750 Fans Receive a Georgia Beanie; First 1,000 Fans Receive a 2018 UGA Baseball Schedule MagnetSunday Promotions: Pregame: Anthem Buddies: Kids can stand on the field with the players during the national anthemSunday Postgame: Kids Run The Bases, Play Catch In The Outfield, Autographs With UGA Baseball Team   Foley Field To Follow SEC’s Clear Bag Policy In order to enhance safety and expedite fan entry at Georgia athletic events, UGA will follow the SEC’s Clear Bag Policy at Foley Field and all other athletic facilities. Only one clear bag no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches (gallon size) per person is permitted. Fans are also allowed a small clutch purse not exceeding 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches. Also, Seat cushions/backs should be no bigger than 16 inches and have no arms or pockets.  
  • The Georgia Bulldogs, currently the No. 1 team in the nation according to the latest College Football Playoff Polls, will only play in Sanford Stadium one more time this season. And today we learned the kickoff time for what will be Senior Night.  Georgia and Kentucky will kick off on November 18th at  3:30pm and be televised on CBS. Prior to the game, all seniors on the team wil be honored on the field as part of Senior Night festivities. This year will have some star-studded acknowledgements, headlined by seniors Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, and Dominick Sanders, among many others. 
  • The No. 3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs still have a couple of home games left on their 2017 schedule, and today they learned the kickoff time for one of them. When Eastern Division rival South Carolina travels between the hedges on November 4th to play the Bulldogs, the two teams will kick off at 3:30pm and air on CBS.  The game will not be the featured Game of the Week that usually airs on CBS every week, being as the network opted for a double header. Instead, LSU at Alabama will air on the network at 8pm with all its main announcers and sideline reporters.  The game  marks the earliest kickoff for a Georgia home game this season. 
  • A Georgia Bulldog football player has been arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. Junior Middle Linebacker Natrez Patrick, one of the leading tacklers on this year’s Bulldog football team, was picked up by Athens-Clarke County Police. Word of the arrest comes on the eve of the 5th ranked Dogs Saturday game against the Vanderbilt Commodores, a noon kickoff in Nashville.  Patrick was booked into the Athens-Clarke County jail at 11:37 p.m. Thursday night on charges of marijuana possession less than one ounce, and stopping/standing/parking/ where prohibited. He posted bond and was released at 12:25 a.m. Friday morning.  It is not Patrick’s first brush with the law. He was arrested on a similar charge in 2015 and served a one-game suspension. As per the UGA student handbook, a second marijuana or alcohol related arrest would result in a suspension of 25 percent of the season’s games, which translates in football to a four-game suspension.  Patrick played his high school football at Mays High School in Atlanta. 
  • UGA football continues to roll at 5-0 and will play at Vanderbilt this coming Saturday, as many are already looking forward to Homecoming Weekend the following Saturday.  Today, the SEC announced that Georgia and Missouri on 10/14 will have a kickoff time of  7:30pm on the SEC Network.  UGA will be looking for a small sense of redemption, as it lost its homecoming game to Vanderbilt last season. 
  • Nick Chubb may have received the ultimate redemption in his return to Knoxville and Neyland Stadium on Saturday: a 41-0 win over the Tennessee Volunteers.  But he received a little icing on that tasty cake on Monday, when the Southeastern Conference named him co-SEC Offensive Player of the Week. He shares the honor with Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham.  Chubb ran the ball 16 times for 109 yards in the win on Saturday, becoming just the second UGA player to rush fopr 100 or more yards in 20 games. The other being Herschel Walker.  Chubb suffered a devastating knee injury at Tennessee on the Bulldogs previous trip in 2015 on the first offensive play of the game. Tennessee fans then mocked his injury last week by hanging deragatory messages written on bedsheets hanging from fraternity houses in Knoxville. Safe to say redemption has been served. 
  • The No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs have their focus on this week’s first SEC road trip of the season to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers. But meanwhile, the SEC announced today kickoff times for games the following week. Georgia is scheduled to travel againt o Vanderbillt on Oct. 7th, and with the game kicking off at Noon (eastern time) and will either be televised on the SEC Network, ESPN, or ESPN2, to be determined later.  This will be the earliest kickoff time of the 2017 season, and will be at 11am central time on location in Nashville. So pack those breakfast supplies if you’re making the trip and plan to tailgate. 
  • UGA will make its first SEC road trip in a couple weeks to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Sept. 30th. The Southeastern Conference on Monday assigned a kickoff time for the game.  The Bulldogs and Volunteers have been given a 3:30pm kickoff, and will be played on CBS as its SEC Game of the Week.  This will be the Bulldogs’ first appearance on CBS this season, and hold an all-time record of 48-38-1 when playing on the network.  Start planning travel/tailgating accordingly. 
  • The University of Georgia released its full football schedule for the 2018 season today.  9/1 - Austin-Peay (Athens, GA) 9/7 - South Carolina (Columbia, SC) 9/15 - Middle Tennessee State (Athens, GA) 9/22 - Missouri (Columbia, MO) 9/29 - Tennessee (Athens, GA) 10/6 - Vanderbilt (Athens, GA) 10/13 - LSU (Baton Rouge, LA) 10/20 - BYE WEEK 10/27 - Florida (Jacksonville, FL) 11/3 - Kentucky (Lexington, KY) 11/10 - Auburn (Athens, GA) 11/17 - UMass (Athens, GA) 11/24 - Georgia Tech (Athens, GA) A few items of note: Georgia will have seven home games in 2018, whereas it had six homes games in 2017.  The South Carolina game returns to the beginning of the season where it more traditionally has been played. The last few seasons have seen that game moved from mid-October to even mid-November The Bulldogs will travel to LSU for the first time since 2008, a 52-38 win for Georgia as Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford lead the team.  Yet again, with the Florida game being neutral site, and the home-and-home with Georgia Tech every year, Georgia fans will have to go an entire month (35 days) without football and tailgates in Athens. After the Vanderbilt game on Oct. 6th, the next home game will be against Auburn on Nov. 10th.  Georgia will finish the season with three consecutive November home games, when weather can be very nice... but it can also get very cold if night games happen to be scheduled. 
  • Logan Booker

    Logan Booker is the producer for Classic City Today on 98.7FM and AM 1340 WGAU from 6am-10am weekdays, and occasionally contributes on-air with Tim Bryant. Logan also covers the midday news on WGAU Monday-Friday. On occasion, he fills as a co-host of The Morning Show on 960 The Ref. 

    Logan has covered UGA sports since 2012, previously with Bulldawg Illustrated. 

    He is a graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where he earned a degree in magazine journalism in addition to a Grady Sports Media certificate. He was born and raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and in addition to his current home in Bethlehem, Georgia, he spends lots of time with his dog and his boat in Lincoln County, Georgia. 

     

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Georgia Sports News

  • OXFORD, Miss. — Georgia Lady Bulldog junior forward Caliya Robinson scored a season-high 28 points to lead her team to a 66-52 victory Monday evening at The Pavilion on the Ole Miss campus.  The Lady Bulldogs, now 22-5 overall and 10-4 in the SEC, saw their 17-point halftime lead trimmed down to a one-point margin in the third quarter, before outscoring the Rebels 18-8 in the fourth.  Robinson’s 28 points were just two shy of her career-high 30 that she scored last season against Minnesota. In addition to Robinson’s performance, freshman Que Morrison finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.  “We never gave up the lead, but I thought we just came out sluggish in that third quarter,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “Ole Miss was aggressive after the half and we started fouling and giving up offensive boards. In the fourth, we went back to what we do best. It’s always tough to win on the road and we have another tough one Thursday at Alabama.' Robinson scored Georgia’s first 10 points as she outscored the whole Ole Miss team, 10-5 out of the gate. Haley Clark and Mackenzie Engram were the only other Lady Bulldogs to score in the first period as Georgia finished just 7-of-18 from the field. Still, the Lady Bulldogs led 15-12.  Simone Costa nailed a 3-point basket to begin the second quarter, before the Lady Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run later in the frame to take a commanding 26-13 lead.  Georgia allowed the Rebels to score just six points in the second quarter, outscoring Ole Miss 20-6. Georgia finished the first 20 minutes with a 48-percent mark from the field en route to a 35-18 halftime lead.  Robinson started the second half much like the first, scoring her team’s first four points. Following two free-throws by Morrison, Georgia missed eight of its next nine shots to allow the Rebels to cut the 17-point margin to just one — 45-44. The Lady Bulldogs finished the third with nine team fouls, compared to just two from Ole Miss.  Engram saved Georgia late in the period with a big 3-pointer to extend it to 48-44 going into the fourth. The Lady Bulldogs built on Engram’s late basket and held the Rebels to just 22 percent shooting over the final 10 minutes to pick up the win,  Georgia now hits the road to face Alabama on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. 
  • The Atlanta Hawks are tied for the worst record in the NBA. Predictably, the team’s local TV ratings have dropped dramatically. The decline is the largest by any NBA team in its home market this season. > More:  How many Atlantans are watching Hawks games? All 82 Hawks games this season are being televised on Fox Sports Southeast. The Hawks’ next game is Friday at Indiana.  > Also:  Seating changes coming to SunTrust Park
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet today calls for a good birds-eye view of a few trends that are emerging already for the class of 2019.  The eyes are on the horizon today for UGA recruiting regarding the class of 2019. The Bulldogs have seven commitments and still hold a 167.13-151.64 edge on Miami for the nation’s top But that race still has a lot of track left to go. The better topic for today is to try and pick up any hints as to what the class will look like in 2019. We can look at the level of offers that the Bulldogs are sending out a recruiting trail and follow those data points. They show where the staff feels its needs are in the class of 2019. But before we probe forward, it also helps to see just exactly what the Bulldogs have done so far under Kirby Smart. Check out these position-by-position recaps of what the positions the Bulldogs have recruited since Smart’s first class in 2016. We will also trim the players from those signing classes that are no longer with the team from our findings. The class recaps maintained by 247Sports allow us to bring this research forward very clearly for this exercise, but we are going to dial in a few elements here. For example, Charlie Woerner was rated as the nation’s No. 25 receiver back in 2016, but he’s always been a tight end at UGA. The example set by 5-star Mecole Hardman, Jr. also refines our thinking. Hardman was recruited as an athlete, spent his freshman season at cornerback but then moved to receiver in 2017. He’s classified as a receiver in the following data tables. The same goes for players at other positions as well. Position 2016 2017 2018 Offense QB 1 1 1 RB 2 1 2 WR 3 4 2 TE 2 0 2 OT 0 3 2 OG 2 2 2 OC 1 0 1 K 0 0 0 Totals 11 11 12 Defense  2016  2017   2018 DT 3 0 3 DE 1 1 0 OLB 1 2 4 ILB 1 3 1 CB 0 4 4 S 0 4 1 P 1 0 1 Totals 7 14 14 Overall class total 18 25 26 Why just the last three classes, you say? It is interesting to note that there will still be holdovers from Mark Richt’s last two singing class in Athens this fall. There look to be two potential starters from 2014 (Lamont Galliard, Kendall Baker) that remain on the 2018 roster. That number only expands to five likely starters or heavy contributors (Terry Godwin, Jonathan Ledbetter, Natrez Patrick, D’Andre Walker and Deandre Baker) among the approximate 16 holdovers from the class of 2015. Smart’s first three classes are by and large the ones that will still have viable eligibility in 2019. What does the recruiting picture look like for 2019 then?  We can then check to see an early read on 2019 by how many offers the Bulldogs have extended for 2019. UGA fired off 295 scholarship offers over the last cycle along the way to the nation’s top-rated recruiting class for 2018. The staff sent out offers to 49 receivers among that lot, including another 38 to cornerbacks, 35 to defensive ends (strong-side and weak-side) and another 31 offers to defensive tackles. Just by looking at the tables, we can see what the needs look like for 2019. QB: 1 RB: 0 WR: 3 TE: 2 OT: 2 OG: 2 OC: 0 K: 0 DE: 3 DT: 3 OLB: 2 ILB: 3 CB: 2 S: 2 P: 0 Total: 25 (of a possible 25) Those seem like the likely totals for 2019 and there would be room for another player at RB, OLB or CB in terms of the best player available for the class. Of course, these are not the actual numbers but rather the best guess for what the class will look like in 2019 given everything we’ve shared so far along this specific blog. Does this hold up so far in real life? Here’s a look at what the offer totals look like across those varied positions so far for 2019. QB: 10 (5 Dual-threats, 5 Pro-Style) RB: 9 WR: 28 (Already with a pair of 5-star commits) TE: 5 (Already with a 4-star commit) OT: 22 (Already with a 4-star commit) OG: 2 OC: 7 K: 3 DE: 33 (Both strong-side and weak-side DEs) DT: 31 OLB: 14 (Already with a 5-star commit) ILB: 2 (Already with a 4-star commit) CB: 38 (Already with a 4-star commit) S: 19 ATH: 9 P: 1 Total: 192 It is interesting to immediately note how heavy the Bulldogs are going at the CB and DT positions so far prior to March of this cycle. The numbers at wide receiver and tackle on the offensive side of the ball are also indicative of a clear trend. The fact that the Bulldogs are only 110 offers away from surpassing last year’s offer total is also telling. It seems clear that the Bulldogs are casting a wider net across the nation for its 2019 class.   Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap. The post UGA recruiting: A sneak peek into how the next recruiting class at UGA will shape up appeared first on DawgNation.
  • KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Chipper Jones says this spring will be wide open for the Atlanta Braves. 'Guys need to know that this team and this organization are tired of the last few years,' the former Braves star after Monday's first full-squad workout. 'We're a very proud organization. We went through a rough offseason with the changing of the (front office), but ... there's definitely a change in attitude. You see it in the way the coaching staff is putting together spring training.' The 45-year-old Jones was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility this winter. His 19-year career, all with Atlanta, ended in 2012 and nearly coincided with the Braves' run of 14 straight division titles. They come into 2018 on a streak of four straight losing seasons, including last year's 72-90 mark. In his role as a special assistant, the star third baseman is hoping that competition for positions might spark a revival. 'It's a free-for-all,' Jones said. 'There are a few people who had big league jobs last year who need to come in here and play for their spot.' Jones' assessment might apply to almost any player except first baseman Freddie Freeman and Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte. There is also competition for two spots in the rotation after the Braves traded for right-hander Brandon McCarthy. 'It's a little bit about change,' manager Brian Snitker said. 'It's a different camp, a young camp.' Snitker's immediate concern is getting ready for exhibition games this weekend after just a handful of workouts. 'We probably did more than we normally would (on the first day),' he said. 'I don't care how good a shape they're in, it still takes a lot to get used to and you're going to get sore. That's just part of the process. We started live (batting practice) already today, which we have to do to prepare for the games. We're kind of amping things up a bit quicker than normal.' Much of the spring focus will be on prospects, starting with 20-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna. 'He's as good a prospect as I've seen,' Jones said. 'You've got your cornerstone guy in Freddie, and it's going to be interesting to see if (Acuna) can continue to develop as the second guy.' In camp as a non-roster player, Acuna is a long-shot to make the opening day roster. But after trading Matt Kemp to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that brought in McCarthy, the Braves have only four roster outfielders - Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Lane Adams and Preston Tucker. 'The first day of spring training is like the first day of school,' Jones said. 'You get to see all the guys again and the guys out here have something to prove. But there's really only a couple spots where you can say the team is cemented. Everywhere else is a free-for-all and I think that makes for a competitive camp. We'll see how the young guys respond to it.' NOTES: Veteran relief Peter Moylan was set to rejoin the Braves, according to reports. The 38-year-old right-hander, who pitched 79 times for Kansas City, will join Atlanta for a third time pending a physical. Moylan pitched for the Braves from 2006 through 2012 and again in 2015.