Chipper’s first homer of spring caps pain-free day

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Chipper Jones hit his first home run since August knee surgery, but that wasn’t even the best thing about his Saturday at the ballpark.

“Today was the first day that I had absolutely no pain in my knee whatsoever, which I’m most excited about,” said the Braves third baseman, who hit a two-run, two-out homer in the sixth inning of a 6-4 win against the New York Mets at Champion Stadium.

“I felt like today was the first day that the knee was as good as was pre-injury. Now the key is to start stringing some days together where it feels like that…. [The homer] was just a big cherry on top of a great day.”

Jones connected on a 2-0 fastball from right-hander Dillon Gee and drove it to the bullpen beyond right field, increasing the lead to 5-0. It was his first home run since Aug. 6, 2010, four days before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Jones, who’ll be 39 o April 24, hit .302 with five homers and a .907 OPS in his last 28 games before the injury, to finish his truncated season with a .265 average, 10 homers and an .806 OPS in 95 games.

He’s had good days and a couple of bad ones this spring, but Saturday was the best so far for Jones, who played third base for the second time in a three-day span. He served as a designated hitter in his other four Grapefruit League games.

He is 5-for-17 (.294) with one walk, two strikeouts and a hit-by-pitch.

“I’ve just been barreling them into the ground,” said Jones, who went 1-for-3 on Saturday, grounding out in the first inning and grounding into a double play in the third inning. “I can’t really complain about the way I’ve swung it. But, you know, you want to get results. You don’t want to just hit hard ground balls.

“You want to hit some line drives and hit some balls into the gaps and whatnot. It was especially good to get one up in the air and hit it out of the ballpark.”

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and Jones talk each day about how the Braves veteran feels and the upcoming schedule. Gonzalez plans to start Jones at third base again Sunday in a game against the Nationals in Viera, Fla., then give him Monday off when the Braves travel to face the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.

The objective is to bring Jones along at a pace that is both prudent and will allow him to get enough at-bats to be ready for opening day March 31.

“There’s going to be some good days,” Gonzalez said, “and there’s going to be some days when you’re going to have to get through it or be smart about it — like we talked about from Day 1 — and say, I can’t go today.”

The Braves and their opponents used the designated hitter for the first week of spring games, but the DH will be used in only a few games against American League teams during the final three weeks of spring training.

“We don’t have many DH games left, so I’m going to have to get out there [at third base],” Jones said. “It felt good on [defense], felt good running down to first. I had no pain up until I started running my sprints in the outfield [after he left the game] and it started getting fatigued.

“But from a standpoint of playing, I felt like I had first-step explosion and a I felt like I was running as fast and as hard as I could, for a guy my age. I felt fast today. I felt quick and I felt fast.”

He hasn’t had to make any diving defensive plays or charge in to field any bunts or slow rollers yet, and Jones was asked if he hoped to best tested with such a play soon.

“I like the routine ones,” he said, laughing. “It’s going to happen. I’d certainly like to see what the first step is like on defense where you really have to react, one step and a lay out. But I’ll be careful what I wish for.”

It seemed appropriate that his first post-surgery homer came against the Mets. Jones has hit 44 of his 436 career homers against the Mets, topped only by his 45 against Philadelphia.

39 comments Add your comment

german

March 5th, 2011
5:50 pm

so what, a sack of rice fell in china

Alex Tetzner

March 5th, 2011
5:52 pm

prattvillenolzfan

March 5th, 2011
5:52 pm

So far, it’s been very encouraging to see Chipper and McClouth produce this spring………..I know it’s still early, but our two top questions seems to have been answered..

K Conway

March 5th, 2011
5:54 pm

Would be nice if he stayed healthy but the fact is that Chipper will be on the bench watching more than playing this year!

bravesfanbob

March 5th, 2011
6:03 pm

Can only hope that this is the way it’s going to be this season. If McLouth can hit .285 with 15 and 75, and Chipper can hit .280 with 20 and 90, then we will be no worse than the wild card. We also need for Tommy John to come and rub Halladay’s, Oswalt’s, Lee’s, and Hamel’s elbows for bad luck. They’ve been getting banged up in spring training so far, so I can hope! (They’ll still get paid!)

Cardog10

March 5th, 2011
6:06 pm

Keep it up Chipper. You don’t have to do anything special out there in the field, we need you in the lineup. I love the Braves, but seeing Chipper in the lineup makes it a lot more exciting to watch. Can’t wait for the season!

Stone

March 5th, 2011
6:22 pm

i hope that each time he hits a homerun the media dont make it the only reason we won…what happen after or before. lets compare hios numbers to the other stars around the league who are doubling his homeruns, RBI, ect…We will see. I will be pulling for him and the Braves..GO BRAVES.

James

March 5th, 2011
6:23 pm

I can’t wait until the season starts. Go Braves!

Brava

March 5th, 2011
6:24 pm

Go Chipper! Glad you are feeling good, Hoss.

Can’t wait for the regular season to get here. I have a really good feeling about this team.

reckingball

March 5th, 2011
6:27 pm

The Braves can do it!

Bob Horner had a sweet compact swing

March 5th, 2011
6:28 pm

Chipper and McClouth are the key to the Braves success this year….I’m fired up…can’t till opening day

Geaux Braves

March 5th, 2011
6:32 pm

Where are all the Chipper haters?

Robert

March 5th, 2011
6:37 pm

I give him 20 regular season games before he is on the DL.

Largo

March 5th, 2011
6:39 pm

Boo! Chipper didn’t really hit a home run. He actually hit a short fly that fell in front of the outfielder. The guy got so mad that he picked up the ball and threw it over the fence.

jerry

March 5th, 2011
6:40 pm

I don’t know why the National League teams doesn’t use the DH in the spring. First, who the hell wants to see a pitcher bat anytime, second, it would give some of the young non pitchers a chance to show what they can do, third, what damn good does it do for a pitcher to hit in spring games. It won’t make them any better during the season. And what if a starter takes one on the elbow? Idiots.

count_schemula

March 5th, 2011
6:43 pm

“We also need for Tommy John to come and rub Halladay’s, Oswalt’s, Lee’s, and Hamel’s elbows for bad luck.” No. This statement is not funny. I want to beat the Phillies at their best and in sports, you NEVER wish injury upon someone. It’s as unsportsmanlike as it gets. /soapbox

Brett #17 Fan

March 5th, 2011
6:49 pm

Looking forward to a good season.

Braves Fan

March 5th, 2011
7:30 pm

Hope the Braves sell tickets only to people who are real Braves fans this year, not to those who complain about everything the Braves do. We do not need people who pull against the home team club. Go Braves.

Robert

March 5th, 2011
8:07 pm

“There’s going to be some good days,” Gonzalez said, “and there’s going to be some days when you’re going to have to get through it or be smart about it — like we talked about from Day 1 — and say, I can’t go today.”

Amen. You go Fredi. You have a solid supporter here. I like what I see. I like the look of the team. I like the attitude. I like the new emphasis on fitness and fundamentals. I like the way Fredi handles the team, the press, and the fans

Simple. Direct. Logical. And somewhat honest.

Noone expects a big league manager (or a beat writer) to be fully honest when discussing anything about their job or their team. It is well understood that they have a responsibility to the code by which the game operates, and that sometimes this will keep someone on the inside from being able to call a spade a spade. The players have to deal with and/or face each other, whether as teammates or as opponents – so you dont expect them to blister each other to the public forums. And the writers risk their access and their very livelihood if they upset their sources. (Read “Juicing the Game” if you ever want convincing evidence why every writer who covers baseball sacrifices a good part of his credibility by the very nature of his job)

But there is a difference between saying things tactfully and within the code as opposed to just being an idiot and claiming that there was just one bad pitch in a seven run inning or having nothing more to say than “player x looked great, now worries” no matter who or what the situation

Some call you Cox 2.0 – and you have to smile and nod and act as if that isnt an insult. We understand.

Quicherbichin

March 5th, 2011
8:45 pm

Ah, Robert pushes open the door of his stall and brays again… Cox 2.0 is not an insult.. i can hope that Fredi hangs around to win another 2200 games here.

smallmouth6

March 5th, 2011
9:05 pm

Good to see Chipper working toward a good season.

OldTimer

March 5th, 2011
9:07 pm

Chipper is a China Doll, he needs to be kept on the shelf.

katherine

March 5th, 2011
9:40 pm

Robert
March 5th, 2011
6:37 pm

I give him 20 regular season games before he is on the DL.

Way to be positive debbie downer……

40YearBravesFan

March 5th, 2011
9:52 pm

GO HOSS!!!! That’s good to hear.

Ken Stallings

March 5th, 2011
10:09 pm

Going into spring training, the Braves had three big questions:

1. Chipper Jones returning to pre-injury form.

2. Nate McClouth returning to pre-trade form.

3. The new bullpen performance.

So far in spring, two or those three questions are getting positive answers. The bullpen is also doing well overall.

It’s a long year and spring training is still just spring training. But, it is nice to see some positives coming from these big questions.

Kimberly Dorsey

March 5th, 2011
10:52 pm

Go Atlanta beats all them teams in the National and American League. Everybody wants to count the Braves out they act like Philly is the team to beat. But this is the team you all need to be feared of. GO BRAVOS!

Chip Slip

March 5th, 2011
11:18 pm

he is asking for 25 games off + the 30 games of random injuries (cause he is old and chipper)

not counting a year ending injury that is likely to occur.

IF HE PLAYS 75 GAMES I WILL BE SURPRISED

tooslim73

March 6th, 2011
12:06 am

Chip Slip…

I wouldn’t have known had you not used all caps …thanks for sorting that out for me.

Mitchell

March 6th, 2011
12:42 am

Chipper Jones’ knee is pain free

Ha, yeah right. That’s funny.

The Dude Abides

March 6th, 2011
12:59 am

Keep hitting those Chip Shots!

Decleated

March 6th, 2011
8:49 am

Yes, it’s way too early to make too much of this but as astute Braves fans know it’s not Chipper or McLouth we should be fretting about right now.

Our bullpen relievers, with the exception of O’Flaherty and Venters, haven’t looked good at all. Look at these ERAs: Linebrink 9.00, Moylan 9.00, Sherrill 9.00, Kimbrel 15.43.

Heck, if we’re going to worry about something, worry about these guys.

Chipper looks healthy and Nate is batting over .400 at this early point in Spring Training.

Trojan

March 6th, 2011
9:23 am

If Chipper is healthy enough to hit at a .285 20 hr pace, and McLouth can it at a .260 20 hr pace, ATL will win and do WELL in the playoffs.

I hope Chipper is given a day off each week in addition to the regular off days. This will keep the bench sharper and Chipper healthier.

It seems that some fans on this blog celebrate when they think of Chipper being hurt.

Chipper is a rip off

March 6th, 2011
9:57 am

Chipper is old, ugly and he needs to give back the money for which he has ripped off the Braves for so many years and go to the state where he lives and spends his money.

Stevo

March 6th, 2011
10:13 am

Does anyone have a video of the homer?

Cranberry

March 6th, 2011
11:03 am

Prayers answered……….love that kid!

Headley Lamar

March 6th, 2011
11:19 am

Some call you Cox 2.0 – and you have to smile and nod and act as if that isnt an insult.

Freddi is Cox 2.0

Basically the same manager. I love it. Im sure the players do too.

chippj10

March 6th, 2011
12:39 pm

‘Chipper is a rip off’ – LOL loved that comment, your fake comment really does sound like a lot of the true chipper haters on here. that was a great work of satire. lets keep it going!!

I wanna see Chipper’s birtch certificate!!! Hes not allowed to play for Team Georgia if he was born overseas, in Florida. I can’t believe he wont give back the money that he earned!! I hate people who sign contracts. I hated him when he won the MVP!!!! He cheated!!!! It was the Democrats fault that he won the batting title!!! AHHHHH!!!!!!! And I’m so much more handsome!!!

tyler

March 6th, 2011
2:32 pm

goto foxsports.com/braves

Tim Key

March 6th, 2011
3:31 pm

My Grandsons 11 and 6 went to ST game at Disney-paid $75×4 for on field experience. Their Braves heroes completely ignored them while the White Sox players signed all autographes. Pitiful. Shame on you Braves. Where do you think future season ticket holders come from?

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