KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Martin Prado was in the middle of an interview when Jair Jurrjens walked over and said jokingly, “I can answer that for him.”
Indeed, he could.
Both players went through a most unsettling winter.
Jurrjens and Prado were mentioned frequently in trade talks after the Atlanta Braves collapsed at the end of last season. While there was plenty of blame to go around for the September swoon, those two wound up most prominent in the rumor mill after disappointing seasons plagued by injury and illness – Jurrjens winning only one game down the stretch after being an All-Star, Prado slumping to the lowest average of his big league career.
Both were prepared to move on.
Even now, still wearing Braves uniforms in the early days of spring training, they’re not getting too comfortable.
“I love this team. They gave me a chance to play in the bigs,” Prado said Sunday. “Right now, I’m still with the Braves. That’s the team I love the most. But I feel like at some point in my career, (a trade) is going to happen. I’m just preparing myself mentally. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’m still part of this team.”
Jurrjens has already been traded once in his career, acquired from the Detroit organization while still a minor leaguer.
Even more than Prado, the right-hander sounds as though his days with the Braves are numbered.
“It’s not my first rodeo,” Jurrjens said with a shrug. “All those trade rumors, I’m used to it.”
Still, it’s not easy to hear your name thrown into virtually every trade possibility that comes up during an off-season, supposedly dangled as the bait that might’ve helped land the Braves another power hitter in the middle of the order.
For a while, Prado diligently checked the Internet each day to see where he might wind up. But he realized that was no way to live.
“When I would see my name in there, I would say, ‘OK, I better go work out even harder than I usually do,’” said Prado, already known as one of the team’s most diligent players when it comes to conditioning. “But at a certain point in the off-season, I said, ‘No, I’m not gonna work like that. I’m just going to keep going what I’m doing and let them make a decision.’ ”