Kemp on meeting Aaron: 'That was crazy'

Whalen, Cunniff promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett

Kemp on meeting Aaron: 'That was crazy'

ATLANTA -- Matt Kemp's early experience with the Braves became more memorable on Wednesday afternoon when the newly acquired outfielder met Hank Aaron in the home clubhouse at Turner Field.

"That was crazy," a smiling Kemp said after spending a few minutes talking to the legendary Hall of Famer, who is widely regarded as one of the top five greatest players in baseball history.

After Kemp was acquired from the Padres on Saturday, he began looking forward to spending time with John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones and some of the other Braves he religiously watched during his childhood in Oklahoma. The 31-year-old outfielder also mentioned that his favorite player was current Braves bench coach Terry Pendleton.

But the opportunity to meet Aaron was a welcome treat for Kemp, who was introduced to some of Hollywood's top stars on a daily basis during his years with the Dodgers.

Aaron seemed to enjoy the chance to interact with Kemp and some of the other Braves players who came to greet him on Wednesday. The 82-year-old legend watches the Braves on a regular basis and maintains a strong sense for what is going on around the baseball world.

Aaron recently said that he hopes to return to Turner Field later this year to congratulate Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who is on the verge of joining the 3,000 hits club that Aaron joined in 1970.

Roster moves
The Braves promoted right-handed pitchers Rob Whalen and Brandon Cunniff from Triple-A Gwinnett before Wednesday's game. Infielder Daniel Castro and right-handed reliever Ryan Weber were optioned back to Gwinnett.

Whalen made his Major League debut as Wednesday night's starter against the Pirates. Cunniff is back at the Major League level for the first time since last year.

Cunniff's struggles toward the end of the 2015 season led to a unique decision. Despite the fact that he made the third most appearances for Atlanta last year and remained with the organization, he did not even receive an invitation to big league Spring Training this year.

After battling command issues through this season's first two months for Gwinnett, Cunniff was sent to Double-A Mississippi. He made his way back to Gwinnett during the second half of June and started to recently show some promise. Over his past 8 1/3 innings, he has recorded 11 strikeouts, issued no walks and held opponents both hitless and scoreless.

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