LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Chipper Jones’ fourth home run of spring training was one of the longest he’s hit in recent memory, a three-run blast in the first inning Friday that cleared a 60-foot wall holding the scoreboard in left-center field at Champion Stadium.
It traveled an estimated 450 feet and staked rookie starter Brandon Beachy to a 3-0 lead in a 5-3 split-squad win against Detroit. The veteran switch-hitter unloaded on a fastball from Tigers left-hander Adam Wilk.
“That was impressive,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who smiled and added, “He’s had a terrific spring; I ought to put him in deep freeze until we start the season.”
Jones was 1-for-2 with a walk and ranks among NL leaders in multiple offensive categories including batting average (.411), on-base percentage (.459), slugging percentage (.768), doubles (eight), home runs (four) and RBIs (15).
He has three homers and four doubles in his past eight games.
McLouth is finishing strong
Martin Prado, Nate McLouth and Brandon Hicks had two hits apiece in the Braves’ split-squad loss Friday against Philadelphia at Clearwater, Fla.
McLouth raised his average to .320 with his third consecutive two-hit game, and Hicks continues to make a strong case for a utility infield job with a .355 average, four extra-base hits and six RBIs in 31 at-bats. He’s outplayed Ed Lucas, who has more defensive versatility but has hit .244 with one extra-base in 41 at-bats….
Braves starter Rodrigo Lopez was charged with five hits, three runs and three walks in five innings against Philadelphia, including Jimmy Rollins’ two-run homer in the first inning….
Alex Gonzalez and bench candidate Matt Young each had two hits and an RBI in the win against Detroit.
“He’s put himself in position to try to earn a spot,” Gonzalez said of Young, batting .270 with five RBIs and a .404 OBP in 37 at-bats.