Chipper upbeat after taking another step in recovery

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Chipper Jones fielded ground balls Tuesday for the first time since August knee surgery, then had a retort for critics of new manager Fredi Gonzalez’s intention to keep Jones in the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Jones said sarcastically. “Bobby [Cox] hit me third, then they bring in a new guy and people say, ‘Now surely Chipper won’t hit third.’ And then new guy comes in and I’m hitting third, and these people are like, ‘Are they crazy or what? Why would they put the old guy in the 3-hole?’”

Jones smiled and said, “I don’t know. Maybe he still has something to offer.”

The 38-year-old third baseman also took about 40 swings in the batting cage at Champion Stadium on the first day of workouts for Braves pitchers and catchers (Jones and Martin Prado can participate because they are returning from season-ending injuries).

Full squad workouts begin Saturday.

Jones drove several balls over the center-field fence and lined others into and over the fences in the gaps. But as he pointed out, he teed off against hitting coach Larry Parrish, not one of the Braves pitchers who threw batting practice on the backfields Tuesday.

Jones will move out to one of those fields at some point this week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday, to take some cuts against live pitching.

“It’s a good first day,” said Jones, who fielded 30-40 grounders, most of them relatively pedestrian and not requiring much movement to either side. “I’m not going to go out here and try to make the club on the first day. But I didn’t see any problems.

“Obviously fielding a ground ball is only half of it. Getting your footwork down, getting set and making a throw, is something else, something that puts pressure on the knee. We’ll probably start that in a day or two. It’s just like riding a bike.”

Jones, who’ll be 39 in April, had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, an injury that happened when he leapt while making a spectacular defensive play to throw across his body from foul territory to first base in a game at Houston.

“There were a couple [of grounders Tuesday] where I had to move my feet, to my left. There were no problems there. Obviously the backhand, you know, coming off my right side is no big deal. But having to plant and throw against a stiff front leg is something that’s going to put pressure on it, too. We’ll start doing that soon.”

Jones said he plans to be ready for opening day, but needs to avoid pushing things too hard in the first weeks of spring training.

“Yeah, I’m focused on opening day,” he said. “Hopefully the spring plays out and I’m able to do it. I wouldn’t look for me to be in spring training games for the first few days. But we’ll play it by ear. I’m not getting out there till I know I can do everything.

“I need about 40 at-bats [to be ready for the season]…. I would say if I got 30 at-bats left-handed and 12 or 15 at-bats right-handed, I’ll probably be ready to go.”

Jones hopes to play five or six games a week and avoid extended absences from the lineup. He’s played as many as 135 games only once in the past six seasons due to injuries, and last season hit .265 with career lows of 10 homers, 46 RBIs and 95 games.

The Braves plan to move Prado from left field to third base when Jones is out of the lineup. Joe Mather and Eric Hinske are among options for backup left fielder.

Braves general manager Frank Wren says he’s not spending much time worried about backup plans if Jones isn’t ready or misses long stretches of the season.

“At this point there’s no reason to even think that way, no reason to consider it,” Wren said. “He’s doing so well. If we get to that point and we have to make those adjustments, we will. But that’s not even in the front of our mind right now, thinking that’s a possibility.”

Single-game tickets on sale

Single-game tickets for the Braves 2011 season go on sale Monday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available at Braves.com/tickets, the Braves Ticket Office at Turner Field, the Braves Clubhouse Store at CNN Center, Publix Ticketmaster outlets or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets range in price from $8 to $90.

The Braves will hold a two-day presale Feb. 24 and 25 for fans who have registered on Braves.com/presale by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 21. Those who pre-register will receive an e-mail with information about how to access the presale.

62 comments Add your comment

Billy

February 15th, 2011
6:24 pm

Let’s here the Jerry Springer crowd poo poo Chipper

bruce

February 15th, 2011
6:24 pm

good progress…. keep doing it at the right pace!

djv125

February 15th, 2011
6:24 pm

I believe in # 10

treeeeesss

February 15th, 2011
6:26 pm

treeeeesss

February 15th, 2011
6:26 pm

To answer my own question:NO.

Billy

February 15th, 2011
6:27 pm

Did I really spell hear here?

TS

February 15th, 2011
6:30 pm

Good to know that Prado will play 3B when Chipper sits, because ultimately that’s where Prado’s future is, whether this year or next. He’s being a good sport about the move to LF because it’s temporary.

Love the optimism of spring training.

Stevo DeG

February 15th, 2011
6:33 pm

Gotta love it when the grizzled vet has some confidence! GO BRAVES!

prediction

February 15th, 2011
6:34 pm

The Braves win the World Series in 2011, vs Boston.

RHR

February 15th, 2011
7:01 pm

Go get ‘em, Chipper.

alanfalcon

February 15th, 2011
7:08 pm

Give Chipper all the credit he deserves, he hasn’t dodged his rehab or had doubts about his comeback, let the man give his all and the doubters may have to shut u, at least hes giving it ago and not taking the easy way out. GO CHIPPER AND GO BRAVES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LTBF

February 15th, 2011
7:22 pm

Great to have you back Chipper, don’t try to kill the ball, hit a bunch of doubles, hope you have a season like 2008, 128 games like that would be just fine.

Lefty Grove

February 15th, 2011
7:29 pm

Hope his full power button is on over the next two years, 25 per. Want to see him within striking distance of 500 HR’s by the end of this contract.

Michael

February 15th, 2011
7:29 pm

I’ll believe Chiper has something to offer offensively, or defensively, when I see it! No doubt, he is no longer a major league caliber third baseman or number three hitter!;

gatorman770

February 15th, 2011
7:35 pm

He’s probably upbeat after harvesting (p.c. for killin’)a hugh Muy Grande deer off his Texas ranch during deer season.

Vidalia

February 15th, 2011
8:02 pm

Hey DOB,
Will be taking my family to Orlando with me on business and thought about stopping by Dark Star. If we went to the complex, what are the best times to see the big league players working out? It will only be pitchers, catcher, and post-injury guys there when we go, but wondering if early morning, afternoon, or another time is the best way to take in spring training. Thanks!

Jack

February 15th, 2011
8:11 pm

Chipper’s got some fire in him, so I don’t doubt his drive, determination, and ability to help this team. I’m more worried about McOut and B.Mac’s vision. I had the same eye procedure as Mac three years ago and there are days my vision is worse than others. Hopefully that is just a me thing. Also, hope Prado’s oblique tear is truly healed. That type injury can be reoccuring.

Stay tuned… Many questions will be answered this spring. Go Braves!! Thanks for your work DOB.

reckingball

February 15th, 2011
8:17 pm

Hope he makes a full recovery.
Go Braves!

kyle

February 15th, 2011
8:26 pm

With a great picthing staff and the addition uggla how can the braves not win the world series

In Fredi I Trust

February 15th, 2011
8:43 pm

If Chipper stays healthy he will produce. The guy is to good not to. For all Chipper has done for this team, I really wish the fans would cut him some slack. I understand that his contract money could be put to good use elsewhere, but Chipper is the poster child on what a real Braves player is and I will support him until the day he retires, and then I will hope that he stays with the Braves in a coaching capacity.

SFBravesFan

February 15th, 2011
8:57 pm

“The Braves win the World Series in 2011, vs Boston.”

I like this attitude; enthusiasm; optimism. I know it’s dreaming or hoping. But at least it’s better than someone else here; keep complaining or negative thinking, smack talking toward the team they say they love.

Billy Jack's Barbecue & Shrimp Co

February 15th, 2011
10:31 pm

Baseball season rocks. Sorry about the rock chalk last night.

JT

February 15th, 2011
11:00 pm

I sure hope Frank Wren isn’t being entirely truthful when he says there’s no reason to consider a contingency plan for the possibility that Chipper could miss extended time. I think that would be incredibly short-sighted…

But I hope it doesn’t matter. I hope Chipper comes back and wins another batting title!

Ah, spring training. the time when everyone is full of hope.

Frddie G

February 15th, 2011
11:25 pm

Frank Wren has done some very good things in his short tenure as Braves GM, and I hope he has added to that a reliable stick in the lineup for Chipper when he goes down. I am not hoping for that and in fact hope I am wrong, but he has served this franchise well for years and his body can no longer hold up to the rigors of a season. I know Prado will replace him defensively should the need arise, but missing his bat in the lineup will be of concern.

Chris from the Rock

February 15th, 2011
11:49 pm

We still need to bring in a veteran middle INF like Bobby Crosby. I don’t trust Hernandez.

Dawgfan0711

February 16th, 2011
12:02 am

I think chipper will have a great season. He will have more protection in the lineup than he has had in several seasons. Opposing pitchers still don’t want to see him step into the box with the game on the line. Braves fans should be thrilled to have him coming back. 2011 predictions, .305 ba, 23 hr, 91 rbi’s, .401 obp, and 42 doubles. Let’s get the season started. Go out and give em helll chipper!

Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

February 16th, 2011
12:54 am

Hope springs eternal in the grape fruit league and the fan in me want’s Chipper to succeed in 2011. However, my baseball instincts are telling me something else entirely. Chipper’s wheels are shot to hell and have been for years. Larry Wayne .Jr knows this. So without a solid hitting base Chippers power numbers have been in decline the last four years in a row.

2007 hits: 173 HR’s: 29 RBI: 102 Extra base hits: 75 SLG: .604

2008 hits: 160 HR’s: 22 RBI: 75 Extra base hits: 47 SLG: .574

2009 hits: 129 HR’s: 18 RBI 71 Extra base hits: 43 SLG: .430

2010 hits 84 HR’s: 10 RBI: 46 Extra base hits: 31 SLG: .426

That said, from the neck up Chipper’s a better hitter right now than he’s ever been. But from the waist down our switch hitting third sacker is ready for the glue factory. My gut says we are in for another disappointing season from Chipper followed by an announcement of retirement. I sincerely hope my gut is wrong.

Columbus

February 16th, 2011
2:33 am

@Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

I respectfully disagree with your gut. Chipper is going to have a GREAT season in 2011 If he does not have any significant injury. I see at LEAST in 2011 a 300 BA, 24 HR’s, 100 walks and 90 RBI’s probably more. I have watched Chipper his entire career closely, especially his hitting and he is not done no matter what those incomplete stats appear to indicate. Who was hitting behind him and in front of him in 2007 and since? There is much more than hitting home runs when it comes to producing. Your stats are deceptive because you do not state how many at bat’s he had, nor his BA, or on base% also. Chipper has much more than most to offer due to BA and OB% and yes his power numbers have been down and THATS OK. The thing is everyone ELSE had no homers so even though Chipper didn’t get many pitches to hit for HR’s he got plenty of walks even in his slump in 2010. Also there has been some reasons for lower homers including health along with the lineup. The lineup will change in 2011. I also know this from watching Chipper: He had just came out of his 2010 slump and was swinging the best he had been in 2 to 3 years maybe longer when he went down to injury. Bobby Cox seen and commented on this also. His swing had significant authority, a home run producing driving swing, in the last week before the injury. Then he goes down. It was a shame because the Braves really could have used him in the lineup when he was about to go on a tear! Seriously. Even if he doesn’t hit hit homers like before, his OB% should be in the top 5 in the league with all the walks he will get. With Uggla and Heyward likely behind him he should get some pitches, if not, they can drive him in. Either way, I expect a 300 average easily, an increase in HR’s and RBI’s and for him to be an all-star candidate and possibly MVP candidate. Chipper can still hit and he can still get out of a slump. He would be a great hitting coach if he wanted. The question is if he will be healthy of course. If so we will all see how much power he REALLY has with the new lineup and his swing back. I will take 130 games from him for the next 3 years if he has it in him. He will ALWAYS be a good hitter, a great switch-hitter, whether he hits homers or not. If Heyward and Uggla have big power numbers this year….Chipper will have his best season in years. I see at LEAST in 2011 a 300 BA, 24 HR’s, 100 walks and 90 RBI’s regardless of what the others do. And you can MARK THAT IN STONE…and you can call me on it in September if I am wrong….but I wont be! If there is 1 thing I know….it is BASEBALL!

farmerjoe

February 16th, 2011
7:31 am

@Columbus
You really don’t have a clue–

longtimefan

February 16th, 2011
7:44 am

HOF,switch-hitting, batting champion 3 yrs ago that spent the off season getting in the best playing shape he’s been in for years. I’ll take that. He’s out to prove the naysayers wrong. If Heyward , Uggla, Prado hit like they are capable, we get contribution from Freeman and the pitching is as advertised-this could be the year!

Bob the Blogger

February 16th, 2011
7:50 am

I think a realistic expectation for Chipper would be 120 games, .270 BA, 12-15 HR, and 70 RBI. I have a feeling he won’t be ready opening day either. I hope he exceeds all of those numbers, but I just don’t see it happening.

mike

February 16th, 2011
8:00 am

Good to see Chipper up and moving, this Team needs that good veteran leadership and I think he has some juice left in that 38 yr old body. My biggest concern was seeing Bobby ride around in a golf cart looking over Fredi’s shoulder. I know he has a job as special assistant but the classy thing to do would be to wait a few weeks before showing up. I respect Bobby but I think he stayed 3 or 4 yrs too long and its Fredi’s team now. Get out of the way Bobby!

FJ10

February 16th, 2011
8:45 am

I hope by the end of spring training the knee has been fully tested. We all would like to make sure it’s gonna last the season. Go get em Chipper.

Fish Bisch

February 16th, 2011
9:02 am

I agree Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!). Chipper will be a bust.

Don

February 16th, 2011
9:07 am

First of all – forget about retirement – regardless of talk – odds are that Chipper is not going to walk away from the 14 mil per year until his contract expires – no matter how bad his production — and this is not to be critical – few players would — and the Braves will be stuck with this huge hole in their salary budget.
Most people are taling about the question –”Will Chipper be able to come back from the ACL injury?” — This misses the point entirely — Come back to WHAT? People are acting as if Chipper was in the prime of his career and had the injury. Chipper was already in significant decline both offensively and defensively before the injury – had not had a good offensive year for two seasons before the injury and his defensive range was significantly limited. So if all he does is come back from the ACL injury he will be comming back to a situation where he has not had a good year for two years and is now a year older – in addition.

HATinGA

February 16th, 2011
9:21 am

I heard on the “Herd” ,no pun, were Bobby Valentine said the Braves were his dark horse pick for the National Leage. Always kinda liked Bobby.

Sandlot

February 16th, 2011
9:27 am

What’s the over/under on total games Grandpa JONES will play this season…he has to play the full 9??

Bill in VA

February 16th, 2011
9:29 am

Don @ 9:07:
I don’t disagree with your rationale. It’s a thought that’s crossed my mind. I just hope that a combination of Fredi’s managerial mind and Chipper’s desire to do what’s best for the team will prevail, if it comes down to that. I have seen comebacks in my 60 years of mbl watching and I hope this will be one more of those!

Douglas

February 16th, 2011
10:11 am

He’s played as many as 135 games only once in the past six seasons due to injuries ……

With the above being a fact, how can the following be true? Is Wren that stupid or is he just spouting BS?

Braves general manager Frank Wren says he’s not spending much time worried about backup plans if Jones isn’t ready or misses long stretches of the season.

“At this point there’s no reason to even think that way, no reason to consider it,” Wren said. “He’s doing so well. If we get to that point and we have to make those adjustments, we will. But that’s not even in the front of our mind right now, thinking that’s a possibility.”

123

February 16th, 2011
10:12 am

Say what you want about Chipper, but the lineup is not the same without him in it.

my moms a midget and im nuts over her

February 16th, 2011
11:00 am

All should not worry about chipper, his sport segway just arrived at the Disney facility.

my moms a midget and im nuts over her

February 16th, 2011
11:02 am

Chipper is third behind Eddie Murry and Micky Mantle on switch hitter numbers. He is HOF!

[...] since undergoing season-ending knee surgery in August and also took 40 swings in the batting cage, telling David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that it was “a good first day.” I’m not going [...]

Braves 2011

February 16th, 2011
11:55 am

These arguments between Chipper haters and lovers accomplishes what?
We did this all last year.
Was anyone’s opinion changed?
Who knows if any that voice opinions ever goes to a game or gave about the Braves in the least?

Braves 2011

February 16th, 2011
11:57 am

care instead of gave. opps.

Don

February 16th, 2011
12:03 pm

Would someone list the positions where the Braves have a really good defensive player – Certainly not Shortstop, or Second Base, or Third Base, or Center Field. Catcher is just OK, not really good. Prado is learning a new position in Left, so it is likely to take a while at best. Perhaps the rookie at first – if he lives up to his hype. And perhaps Heyward could improve to being really good. But the evaluation of up the middle (where you are supposed to build defense) is not good.

jim

February 16th, 2011
12:49 pm

I hope Prado doesn’t have to play LF 5-6 games a week, then switch to 3B to play 1-2 games when Chipper sits. Learning 1 new position is tough enough, but having to go back and forth between 2 positions that are not your primary position is asking too much. Prado will do it, but it could affect his overall game. He is an all-star, not a utility guy that gets plugged in wherever needed! Let Mather play 3B when Chipper rests and keep Prado where he is.

cs95

February 16th, 2011
1:12 pm

i think prado is better at 3B than 2B, personally

Largo

February 16th, 2011
1:13 pm

Chipper is not going to quit as long as he is owed money. He keeps saying if he doesn’t play as well as he ever played he would retire. That’s all crap. He’s been a bum for two years now so how come he isn’t gone. It’s because of MONEY. He could sure take a lesson from Gil Meche who refused to play another year because of the decline in his ability to pitch effectively for the Royals. He could have hung on (like Chipper) and received 12M but he has integrity. The Braves could sure use that 13M that Chipper steals this year.

D man

February 16th, 2011
1:46 pm

Chipper is a big part of this team. I hope he can contribute this season. GO BRAVES!!!!

Chuck

February 16th, 2011
2:25 pm

Remember that year when Chipper was hitting .463 at the first of the season? I remember people saying he was done then, also. The reason we weren’t 20 games ahead in the standing at that time is because Tex was hitting .120 right behind him. He’ll have a good year if he’s better at warming up before the games and staying flexible.

Felix Millan

February 16th, 2011
2:34 pm

Largo, you are an idiot.

WatchEmEveryNight_Fans

February 16th, 2011
2:59 pm

Haha .. Felix and Largo. We all have opinions. Braves will do well even with old guys. Maybe bring back Sid Bream. Just remember we now have a young manager in Freddie G. He will bring his new and fresh ideas to keep us in the winners’ column. And … while Chipper is in the 3 hole for now, FG will demand production from all of his players to retain the spot.
Go Braves.

MotherGoose

February 16th, 2011
3:57 pm

Im so glad that the Pujols talks have stopped and the deadline has passed. Now that guy can keep quiet play this season, become a free agent and enjoy your lottery winnings. No one cares if you want to become the first $100 million dollar per season player. Greed is ruining baseball the same way it is ruining basketball AND football. Im glad the St. Louis Cardinals didnt feel any pressure at all by Pujols scare tactics and his unwarranted pressure. NO ONE ON EARTH IS GOING TO CAVE IN TO THESE GREEDY PLAYERS OF THE MODERN ERA.

MustangSalley

February 16th, 2011
3:59 pm

Chuck: I dont care if Chipper was hitting .998 at the start of last season. CHIPPER IS PAST HIS PRIME AND NEEDED TO RETIRE FIVE YEARS AGO. CHIPPER JONES IS THE BRETT FARVE OF BASEBALL.

Largo

February 16th, 2011
4:37 pm

Felix, I may be an idiot but I notice you didn’t say I was wrong. Anyway, let’s see how many games the old guy plays. He hasn’t done too well in the past few years and he’s another year older now. MONEY, MONEY MONEY!

ramblingman

February 16th, 2011
5:01 pm

Well, Largo, maybe you can notice this.

You are wrong.

Go Chipper. Go Braves.

NickB

February 16th, 2011
6:17 pm

@ MustangSalley

games played last 5 years- 110,134,128,143,95

OPS last 5 years-1.005, 1.029,1.044,.818,.806

WAR last 5 years- 4.3, 7.4 , 7.6, 2.9, 2.7

Last year was projected out to be a near 5 WAR season for Chipper had he not gotten hurt (making an amazing play BTW). If you notice his last two seasons are still well above average and his offensive abilities are still there. (a team is blessed when they can say a player with an above .800 OPS is in decline and needs to retire) It’s not like he’s putting up .650’s or something!

dmac

February 17th, 2011
8:57 am

If chipper had one ounce of integrity, instead of the ton of pride that he does have, he would have retired already. He’s a money drain on the team and too old to ever earn those dollars.

D man

February 17th, 2011
9:19 am

MustangSalley – Chipper past his prime has been better than 90% of the players in baseball. I think he has some life in his 38 year old body. 38 is still young. I’m 46 and still play sports so I can say that. If he bats anywhere close to .280, that would be huge because the guys batting around him will see better pitches to hit.

stan

February 17th, 2011
7:06 pm

Maybe i’m missing something, but i don’t understand why they don’t put chipper in left field where he is less likely to get hurt and let prado have 3rd.
Can anyone educate me as to whats wrong with this.

Eric

February 17th, 2011
7:07 pm

Chipper’s a 1st ballot HOFer he can hit where he wants to and retire when he wants to. He has earned every dime they pay him. I doubt very seriously there would have been 13 flags in a row up there even with the great pitching. He is a true team player and a real boost in the Locker room.

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