Miami - OK, first off, a disclaimer. Chipper Jones is not in the lineup today against the Marlins. Bobby Cox is giving him the day off because it’s a day game after a night game, and he wanted to give his 37-year-old a little rest.
“I didn’t even ask him,” Cox said. Just did it. And it’s nice for Cox that he had a choice and not because something is ailing Jones.
But here’s the thing, I talked to Chipper for a good while yesterday about facing K-Rod, and I want to blog about it. So can we suspend belief and let me blog on something that’s not pertinent to the next two hours? (He might be pertinent in three hours though, I can see him pinch hitting.)
One of my greatest curiosities when it comes to baseball is wanting to know what goes on inside a hitter’s head, or a pitcher’s head, during the course of an at-bat. What are they saying to themselves? What would they say to each other, if we could have a little trash talk in baseball?
It’s one of a gazillion things I loved about Bull Durham. “Bring me the heat,” Crash Davis says to himself, in the batter’s box. “Bring it, Meat.”
Well, Chipper let me in his head for his ninth inning at-bat Tuesday night against the Mets’ new closer Francisco Rodriguez. Chipper lined out to right with runners first and third to end the game, a one-run loss.
Not to bring up a sore subject there, but want to know what one of the smartest hitters in the game was thinking pitch by pitch in his first at-bat ever against one of the best closers in the game? Cool.
“First pitch fastball, game on the line, for a ball,” Jones said.
“So I’m thinking he’s probably not going to come back with that,” Jones said. “He’s probably going to throw me something offspeed. He throws me a slider backdoor for a strike.”
“I’ve seen K-Rod pitch enough where I know at some point I’m going to see a changeup,” Jones said. “I saw a changeup third pitch. Spit on it for a ball.”
It’s 2-1 and that’s a new term for me. Spitting on it means taking it like – like spitting on the ball and saying “Get that junk out of here, I’m not swinging.” OK, my take anyway.
“So now I’m thinking I know he’s not going to throw me a heater,” Jones said. “And I just spit on his out pitch, what’s he going to come back with? He’s going to come back with a slider. And I was right.”
He lined out to right fielder Ryan Church.
And I had him go back over it again, cause I’m slow and it took me a minute to process everything. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, because he broke it down even more.
Back to the 1-1 pitch:
“I don’t think he’s going to challenge me,” Jones said. “With the game on the line guy on third base, knowing I’m a fastball hitter. He saw me hit a home run off JJ Putz the night before, right? So I sit on the changeup. I get it, it’s a ball. So now it’s 2-1, I’m thinking, what’s the only pitch he’s thrown for a strike? The slider. I’ve never faced him before, but I got the slider. I just got a little out in front of it. My thinking was right. My execution was right. It just didn’t fall for me.”
By the way, with Chipper’s double in the first inning on Tuesday night, Jones reached 900 extra base hits for his career. He ranks third in Braves franchise history in that category behind Hank Aaron (1,429) and Eddie Mathews (901). Elite.
SCHAFER STAYS IN:
You knew Bobby wasn’t going to sit Jordan Schafer, but after his four strikeouts on Wednesday night, this would have been the day. Instead, Schafer is going back out to battle his way out of this stretc, which has seen him struck out 14 times in his last five games. He’s hitting .100 (2-for-20) in that time.
Cox’s take? “As long as he keeps catching everything, fine with me. He’ll get better.”
And he will, based if nothing else on the law of averages. And the work he’s doing and what he’s capable of. And his mindset seems to be OK while going through this.
“I have 100 percent confidence I’ll figure it out,” Schafer said Thursday morning. “There’s something in my swing right now that’s not right. But once I get it, I’ll be fine. It’s just something I’m going to need to figure out.
And no, at no time in our conversation did he blame the wrist. I think that might be a factor but not enough of one to get him to this point. He got three hits the day after he first hurt it.
Schafer and Chipper spent time hitting in the cage Tuesday and watching video on Wednesday. He’s thinking about making level contact, about shooting the ball to left center, and about keeping his head still. Problem is he’s just got a lot to think about.
“They can throw the ball right down the middle right now, and I’ll swing underneath it,” Schafer said. “There’s something there I’m a little off on, I keep missing under the ball, or I keep fouling the ball off. There’s something there that’s not right.”
Through it all, though, Schafer says he doesn’t doubt himself.
“It’s aggravating as hell but it’s just something I’m going to have to work through and I’ll be fine,” he said. “You’re going to have ups and downs. My first month, I’ve have some good ups and some bad downs.”
1. Omar Infante 3B
2. Yunel Escobar SS
3. Garret Anderson LF
4. Casey Kotchman 1B
5. Jeff Francoeur RF
6. Kelly Johnson 2B
7. David Ross C
8. Jordan Schafer CF
9. Jair Jurrjens P
Brian McCann is scheduled to catch for the Gwinnett Braves tonight to test out his new prescription Oakley glasses in a game. We’ll have Chris Vivlamore at that game reporting on how he does. Stay tuned.
And one last thing:
If I’m a little cross today, here’s why…It’s some kind of kids day today at the ballpark with the 12:10 p.m. start. There will be 8,000 screaming school kids here today. In fact, they were screaming an hour before the ballgame. So keep it down on the comments – ha- because chances are pretty good I’ll have a headache! And by the way, it’s Carroll, if you’re still reading and haven’t figured it out already.