Take a ride to camp with MLB.com's Braves reporter

Take a ride to camp with MLB.com's Braves reporter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Nearly every conversation that is shared with a member of the baseball world after the New Year seems to include the question, "When are you heading down to Spring Training?"

Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox recently said these exact words with a sense of excitement that cemented the belief that 50-plus years in the game does nothing to dull the anticipation of a new baseball season.

There is just something special about the uncertainty that awaits over the seven-plus-month stretch that begins in the middle of February and ends for two fortunate teams near the start of November. Maybe this is why I felt a sense of tranquility as I made my seven-hour drive from Atlanta to the Orlando area on Thursday.

It is never easy to say goodbye to those family members who remain supportive as we spend most of the next seven months either on the road, or at the stadium when the team is back in town. But then we ease right back into that grind that we are quite fortunate to experience.

As I enter my 16th season covering the Braves for MLB.com, I fully appreciate the uniqueness that every year has brought. My early experiences provided me the honor of learning from the countless conversations shared with legendary figures like Cox, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones and John Schuerholz.

Now, the job has presented me the chance to chronicle what transpires as the Braves enter a new era with the tremendous hope provided by the presence of top prospects such as Dansby Swanson, Sean Newcomb, Ozzie Albies and Aaron Blair, a quartet that will spend the next six weeks experiencing their first Spring Training as members of Atlanta's organization.

When I made my way through south Georgia on Thursday, I thought about how much the late Bobby Dews loved both that native region and the Braves' organization. The many heralded prospects in this year's camp would have appreciated the chance to work with Dews, the longtime Braves coach who helped mold the careers of Dale Murphy and many other greats who have been part of the organization at some point over the past 40-plus years.

We obviously don't know what the future holds for the current crop of prospects in Braves camp. Nor do we even know how much the team's current plans could change by the end of this camp.

In fact, as I checked into my hotel on Thursday, I was reminded that when I checked out from that same property last year, Melvin Upton Jr. was planning to stay there for another few weeks to rehab a foot injury. About three hours later, after I had arrived in Miami in anticipation of Opening Day, Upton and Craig Kimbrel learned that they had been traded to the Padres.

The uncertainty that surrounds every baseball season keeps us all coming back eagerly anticipating how the season might unfold.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.