LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It was bad enough that Chipper Jones had an epic sunburn that made merely swinging a bat at Thursday’s workout a bit painful.
But to add insult to his pain, the Braves veteran was greeted by a couple of teammates and his manager with … fat jokes.
“I’m also fat now, from what I hear,” Jones said, smiling as he winced while taking his jersey over his sunburned arms. “I’m a little worried, this is the first time I’ve ever been called fat.”
It happened after an Associated Press photo made the rounds on the Internet, which showed the 39-year-old third baseman walking in shorts and loose-fitting sleeveless T-shirt Sunday at Champion Stadium. As the photo was snapped, a breeze blew Jones’ shirt in such a manner that he appeared to have a large spare tire around his midsection.
An Atlanta TV station, along with bloggers and others across the country, ridiculed and ranted online about what looked in the photo to be a good 40 pounds of added weight. Which was surprising to those who’ve actually seen the 6-foot-4 player in person at spring training.
“Thing is, I’m seven pounds lighter than I’ve ever been in camp, and now I’m fat,” Jones said. “I weigh 226, 227. Usually I’m 235.”
That didn’t stop Brian McCann and other Braves from razzing him after Jones returned Thursday from two days of fishing. He hadn’t heard about the photo until he got back.
“Mac’s so happy now,” Jones said, “because [at Turner Field] every time that little kid from ‘Sandlot’ comes on [the video board] before we start the game – ‘play ball!’ – I say ‘Hey, Mac!’ That little chubby kid.”
As for his sunburn, Jones said the last time he had one as bad was the last time he went fishing. Asked about sunblock, he said the only time he ever uses it is on his lips.
Waiting on Pastornicky
Only a few position players on the Braves roster had not reported early to spring training by Thursday, including rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky and veteran backup shortstop Jack Wilson.
Pastornicky, the only projected starter who was not in camp by Wednesday, has been working out at Wilson’s out north of Los Angeles, where Wilson has a regulation infield in his backyard.
They had planned the week of workouts and mentoring by Wilson without knowing that so many Braves position players would report as much as one week before Friday’s official reporting day for position players. The first full-squad workout is Saturday.
“I think Jack arrives this afternoon,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Thursday morning’s workout. “I’m sure Tyler will be right there with him. He probably didn’t know that he had an opportunity to work out [early at training camp].
“He went over to spend some time with Jack, and that’s fine. We’ll have plenty of time.”
Gonzalez then joked that somebody needed to get Pastornicky on Twitter, where he could have seen that the rest of the team was already at spring training.