ATLANTA -- Matt Diaz spoke up a little more than usual in Monday's pre-series scouting team meeting, and well, he should have. Nowhere is Diaz more familiar than here at Atlanta's Turner Field, and no opponent does he know this well.
Diaz signed a two-year deal with the Pirates this offseason following a string of five years with the Braves. He's played behind all four starting pitchers the Braves will send to the mound this week, and he offered information and observations about the four to his Pittsburgh teammates before the start of a key road series.
"I got to sit on the bench a fair bunch and watch their pitchers over the last few years," Diaz said. "I have seen approaches that work better than others against them and hopefully I can give some espionage secrets."
Though Diaz has played 252 of his 634 career games at Turner Field, Monday marked his first stop over to the visitor's clubhouse. The return was a welcome one for Diaz, who was a fan and media favorite in Atlanta for years. He got a good chuckle, too, when a bellman at the team hotel came up to him on Sunday night and said, "You used to be Matt Diaz with the Braves."
Diaz jokingly assured the man that while he may a wear different uniform, he hasn't changed his identity.
"I had a good relationship with the fans here," Diaz said. "I came in as an unknown and it took a while to win them. This was a positive chapter in our life. I'm definitely glad we're on the next chapter, but we definitely enjoyed the chapter that was here.
"It's going to be a lot of fun for me to be back here, but I have to remember why we're here, and that's to win baseball games and get closer to our ultimate goal."