LOS ANGELES – Just when Chipper Jones was starting to hit better, he said his swollen finger would probably keep him out of the lineup at least for the first two games of an important 11-game trip that began Thursday.
Omar Infante started at third base and batted second for the opener of a four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night, while Jones spent the afternoon getting hot and cold treatments on his right ring finger.
“It’s no different,” Jones said of his pain, which bothered him for most of the past week but worsened until he came out of Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia.
The switch-hitting veteran said Wednesday that he hoped he’d be able to play Friday in the second game of the four-game Dodger series, since left-hander Clayton Kershaw is starting that game and finger didn’t bother him as much batting right-handed.
On Thursday in Los Angeles, Jones indicated that forecast had changed a bit.
“I don’t know [about Friday],” he said. “Doc said I probably need to take a couple of days, and if it’s still hurting we might get a shot after that.”
For now, he’s using a treatment wrap that’s designed to transfer smaller amounts of cortisone through the skin to the affected area. The hope is that it will alleviate some pain and inflammation without going to the next step, the cortisone injection, because recovering from the shot might require Jones to miss perhaps half of the road trip.
After hitting just .233 with nine RBIs in his first 33 games, Jones batted .277 with 12 RBIs in his past 14 games before Thursday.
“Yeah, but Omar’s swinging it good,” Jones said. “And Brooks [Conrad] is swinging it good. Whoever fills in for me can do the job.”
Jones hit .364 with seven RBIs in his last seven games despite the injury, and also made some fine defensive plays in the past week.
With runners in scoring position, he led the Braves with a .371 average (13-for-35) and .589 OBP with runners in scoring position.
Asked about feeling better at the plate and whether his recent results indicated he’d turned a corner in his season, Jones said, “If I can get back in there consistently to do what I was doing the week before, yeah.”
Hot-hitting rookie Jason Heyward moved back a spot from second to fill Jones’ usual third spot in the lineup Thursday.