Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 4/12/13
FOX Sports South: The Braves swept the Cubs and swept the Marlins but its the Nationals that are their real measuring stick. What do you expect to see this weekend? Chip Caray: Everyones going to assign an awful lot of important to this series but this is the first three of 19 times that they play these guys. It is an early-season measuring stick and a barometer for both of these teams and both have played very, very well. Yes, the Braves have had a very favorable schedule in six of their last nine games but to their credit those are games that they should have won and they did so in pretty good fashion. To be able to do that with Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman, I think that is a testament to the depth and the talent on this ball club. But make no mistake about it: Washington is as deep and as good and as talented and they are the team to knock off in the division. I assign this series like boxers going through the first couple of rounds, sort of probing for weaknesses and trying to get a feel for what each other can and cant do and what theyre doing well at this point in the season. But if the Braves sweep all three of these games, for anybody to say theyre going to win this division running away is silly and if the Braves get swept, to say they have no chance in the division is equally silly. So lets assign the importance to it that it deserves: its a big series with a very good team but its 16 of what were going to see against Washington all year long, so lets just see how both teams are doing right now and see where it takes us. FSS: You mentioned not having not having Brian McCann and not having Freddie Freeman. The guy who has been steeping into both of their roles catcher and cleanup hitter is Evan Gattis. Hes kind of taken on a folk hero status. When was the last time you remember everyone get caught up in a player like this? CC: I think with the Baby Braves when Jeff Francoeur was on the cover of Sports Illustrated early in his career. Theres that kind of mythical folk worship because he was an Atlanta kid and everybody new his story. I think Gattis has much more of an everyman kind feel to it. He wasnt a No. 1 pick. He was a guy who stumbled and failed in just about every way you could, not just in sports but perhaps in life an was somehow able to drag himself out of those horrible situations. Baseball gave him a second chance and hes cashed it in. People always love the movie star hero and they certainly respect and admire him but theres always a special place in peoples hearts for someone who has had to overcome a whole lot more than a No. 1 pick has. Thats not a knock on anybody, but if you think what Evan Gattis has been through and what hes doing now, its really remarkable. Yes, hes a rookie but -- and weve said this on the broadcast -- he does not approach this as some wide-eyed guy in the big leagues for the very first time. Hes 26 years old. Hes older than Freddie Freeman. Hes older than Jason Heyward. Hes older than Andrelton Simmons. But hes also older in the game of life than just about everybody on this team. Hes been in the lowest of lows in life and this doesnt faze him in any way, shape or form and all of us has just been amazed by it. FSS: Gattis early on was a key guy in the bottom of the order performing so well. Hes moved up since but even without him that part of the order keeps coming through time and time again. Are you surprised by what were seeing? CC: No, because this is a good, deep lineup. Its an American League lineup and when healthy and fully in place, this is a lineup thats just relentless. Manager Fredi Gonzalez can go left, right all the way down; he can lead off with Simmons, he can lead off with B.J. Upton. You could lead off with Heyward if you wanted to. No, Im not surprised. I think the depth of this ball club is as good as its ever been. Its certainly better than it was last year and guys are getting an opportunity to play because of injury. When the regulars come back and get into the lineup, thats just going to give Fredi more options to use and for a manager Im sure is a very good thing.
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