ATLANTA -- The demand for autographs doesn't necessarily diminish. New York wants its share, so does Atlanta. And, for now, Ryan Church has some catching up to do. Players produce their signature as readily as they breathe. Church signs his name as quickly as any player this side of Ed Ott. But he has had to decelerate lest he err.
The trade that moved Church from the Mets to the Braves didn't change his John Hancock, of course. But it did change his numerical ID. And on three occasions, so far, Church has followed his name with No. 19 rather than the accurate No. 25.
"I know who I play for," Church says. "It's just habit." Not Freudian.
He knows who signs the checks now, he knows which dugout is his -- even if he isn't sure yet how to get there. And he knows where he no longer belongs.
Church sat across the field from the Mets -- he refers to them as his brothers -- for nine innings Thursday night and thought of what he knows they're experiencing, what they're enduring.
"There's a sense of urgency that was there weeks ago," he said. "The payroll and the expectations to win. Guys want to do what's expected of them. There's a feeling there. I felt it. It's not a good feeling.
"I read David [Wright] said he's sick and tired of talking about injuries. You've gotta win with what you have
and not think about who's not there. It's hard. There's a lot of pressure there, trying to win when you're 100 percent ... when you're 70 percent.
"It's like boxing and going out with one hand tied behind your back. You know you almost have to be perfect. And have to play perfect baseball. The harder you try, the more likely it is you're not going to.
"Everyone there knows what going on. It is what it is. When I got home [Thursday], I was talking to my wife about it. I'm not putting those guys down. They're my friends. I gave David, [Jeremy] Reed and Brian [Schneider] a ride to the park today. But I know how they feel. It's hard without [Jose] Reyes and the two Carloses [Beltran and Delgado]. The guys in our dugout know, too. They don't feel sorry for the Mets. That doesn't happen. I hope those guys start to win as soon as they leave here, just the way I pulled for the Nationals when I came to the Mets."
Put perhaps that rooting will come to an end.
"Yeah, cheapskates," Church said. "I gave them a ride, and no one tipped me."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.