Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Chipper Jones has said it more than once, but with all due respect, Braves manager Bobby Cox isn’t buying it.
Jones said late in his career-worst 2009 season that if he struggled to a similar degree in 2010, he would retire. This despite a three-year, $42 million contract extension signed one year ago, which starts this season and runs through 2012.
Cox was asked what he had thought about Jones’ comments late last season, which the former National League MVP reiterated recently.
“I never took them to heart at all,” Cox said Thursday. “He’ll play three more years, and play good.”
Jones has insisted he would forgo the money left on his contract and “ride off into the sunset” if he could no longer play the game at a high level.
Among switch-hittesrs, he ranks second with a .307 career average and third with 426 home runs. He needs 55 RBIs to reach 1,500 and 28 doubles for 500.
Jones hit a career-best .364 for his first batting title in 2008, then saw his average plummet 100 points to .264 in 2009. His career-low 18 home runs snapped a streak of 14 consecutive seasons with at least 20 homers.
Since reported for spring training this week, Jones has talked not of retirement, but how he likes the team’s chances at a playoff run if the Braves stay healthy and get better production from him and others.
He has also talked about how optimistic he is for the Braves’ future.
“For pretty simple reasons,” he said. “[Pitchers Tommy] Hanson, [Jair] Jurrjens, and some young kids that are in the minors. The Braves have done a very good thing in getting back to their roots and stockpiling that farm system.”
Right-hander Arodys Vizcaino came from the Yankees in a December trade for Javier Vazquez, joining a growing stable of top pitching prospects in the Braves’ low minors.
Vizcaino, Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado are projected as top-of-the-rotation pitchers, and all are likely to pitch at high-A Myrtle Beach at some point this season.
The Braves “are going to reap the benefits” in the future,” Jones said. “It’s probably not going to be while I’m here, but… When you talk about a rotation of Hanson, Jurrjens, Teheran, Vizacaino – man, that’s talking about future No. 1 [starters]. You’re not talking about 4’s and 5’s.”