Braves Notebook: Atlanta mourning loss
The Braves' family is reeling from the shock of the death of the wife of head trainer Jeff Porter.
Kathy Porter died in an horrific accident New Year's Eve afternoon when the family's SUV was T-boned by a Georgia State Patrol trooper speeding to assist a nearby chase.
Jeff Porter, their son, David, and David's girlfriend were unharmed. But the impact of the hit slammed the front passenger's side into a pole; Kathy Porter died at the scene.
Scores of Braves past and present gathered at a suburban funeral home early this week, glad to see each other.
Porter has worked for the Braves for 27 years, so it wasn't unusual that Ned Yost, a former coach, and former Braves' right fielder Jeff Francoeur and infielder Mark DeRosa showed up along with Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and several current Braves.
Although it was not an appropriate occasion for detailed shop talk, the general mood among the players is that they are over their September swoon.
Now that they are rested and healthy, the consensus is that they already have the personnel they need to keep up with the Phillies, Marlins and Nationals.
Right-hander Tim Hudson, who battled back problems last season, expects to be throwing on schedule by spring training after offseason surgery to repair a herniated disk.
Right-hander Jair Jurrjens, source of near-daily trade rumors, will begin the season wearing a customized knee brace when he pitches, hoping to avoid a repeat of right knee problems that have shelved him the last two Septembers. Left-hander Jonny Venters, proud father of month-old Wyatt, feels refreshed and ready to get back at it after making 82 appearances in 2011.
Venters doesn't agree that manager Fredi Gonzalez used him too much, pointing out that his innings were dictated by the close games the Braves were in.
Catcher Brian McCann looks even trimmer; he's sticking to the healthy-eating regimen he started last offseason. The strained oblique that hampered his offense in September has healed.
Right fielder Jason Heyward has shed pounds as well, and is ready for some serious work with new hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher.
Whether Heyward remains the Braves' starting right fielder depends on what they can accomplish in the next three months.