NEW YORK -- Further proving that they recognize him as much more than a backup catcher, a group of Braves players approached David Ross and asked him to organize the players-only meeting that preceded Friday's series-opening win over the Mets.
"They chose me because they know that I'm not scared to say anything," Ross said with a smile as he prepared to take batting practice Saturday afternoon.
Actually, this selection was a product of the fact that Ross has established himself as a legitimate clubhouse leader while spending the past two seasons in Atlanta. It was a primary reason the Braves gave the 33-year-old backup a two-year, $3.25 million contract extension in July.
"Rossy is one of a kind because he understands the game enough to know that it's tough," said Braves closer Billy Wagner. "He also knows that you have to have fun. He has a good time. He loosens you up. Everybody looks at the numbers and thinks the numbers make you a leader. Well, it has nothing to do with the numbers. It has more about what you bring to this clubhouse."
While serving as the organizer and chair of the meeting, Ross joined Chipper Jones, Eric Hinske and Wagner as the primary speakers. They addressed some concerns that developed during the 5-9 skid the Braves carried into this road trip. But they also made every attempt to provide a positive tone.
"We don't panic," Ross said. "We're relaxed. We just wanted to make sure everybody was focused and ready to get back to doing what we were doing."
Wagner doesn't like team meetings for the simple fact that they only occur during rough stretches of a season. But he walked away from this with a sense that it could prove to be positive.
"Meetings allow everybody to know that we're all on the same page," Wagner said. "We all know what's going on. You just relax and do what you've got to do. We're all going to have good games and bad games. You can't go out there and worry about having one or the other. You just have to go out there and play hard."
With Friday night's win over the Mets, the Braves separated themselves from the frustration they were feeling. More importantly, they kept pace with the Phillies in the National League East and gained a 1 1/2-game advantage over the second-place Padres in the Wild Card race.