KISSIMMEE, Fla. – After three consecutive games at designated hitter without any problems, Chipper Jones said he might be ready to test his surgically-repaired left knee in the field as early as Friday.
“End of the week,” he said.
Jones went 0-for-3 with three groundouts Tuesday against the Astros, but one of those outs was sharply hit. He’s 2-for-8 with an RBI and a walk, with solid singles in each of his first two games. But most importantly, he’s showing no lingering ill effects from the surgery.
“He really has been fine,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “One day in pitchers and catchers camp it bothered him a little bit, but other than that he’s been fine.”
Jones plans to take Wednesday off when the team travels to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox and then DH again Thursday against the Tigers. If all goes well, he said he could be in at third base on Friday, likely in the home game against Toronto. (The Braves have a split-squad game Friday in Viera against the Nationals as well.)
Jones tore his anterior cruciate ligament last Aug. 10 against the Astros after planting and throwing on a great play up the third base line. He’s fielded ground balls and thrown to first during workouts this spring but his biggest test will be doing it at game speed.
Highlights from Tuesday’s game
Braves relievers pitched seven scoreless innings behind Tommy Hanson in a 3-0 win over the Astros Tuesday. Eric O’Flaherty got three groundballs in a perfect third inning. Jonny Venters got three groundouts and pitched around a two-out walk in a scoreless fourth inning. The Braves also got a scoreless inning from Stephen Marek and two apiece from Michael Broadway and Jairo Asencio.
Jason Heyward roped three line drives while going 2-for-3, including a double off the top of the right center field wall.
“Shoot to get the ball to the top of the wall in this wind today?” Gonzalez said. “I would like to see where that ball would have landed with no wind. It might have gone over the scoreboard….
Joe Mather made a pair of good plays in his first game at third base for the Braves, including one on a ball up the line from Humberto Quintero. First baseman Freddie Freeman made a nice scoop to complete the play.