Chipper discusses uncertain future, difficult spring

JUPITER, Fla. – After Chipper Jones discussed encouraging signs he saw from the struggling Braves in a 5-4 loss to St. Louis Monday, the third baseman confided his most difficult spring training has him wondering how much more he can take.

“I’ve said it a million times, it’s hell getting old,” said Jones, who’ll be 40 next month and sounds as if he’s leaning increasingly toward retirement after this season.

His balky right knee is hurting even more than he thought it would. He went 0-for-3 on Monday and is 0-for-8 with three walks in four games this spring, having missed five games with leg soreness after playing the Grapefruit League opener.

“The body is starting to tell me every morning when I wake up that it’s getting close,” he said. “I’m signed through the end of this year. If I play in a certain amount of games, I got an option for next year. I don’t know what next year entails.

“I don’t know if I can make it through this year.”

Jones, regarded as a sure-fire future Hall of Famer, is entering the last guaranteed year of a contract that will pay $14 million in 2012. The deal includes a $7 million team option for 2013, which vests automatically at $9 million if he plays 123 games in 2012.

He played 126 games in 2011 despite a stint on the disabled list for arthroscopic right knee surgery, which kept him out of the All-Star game. He had reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee in 2010, the second time he’s had that procedure.

He hit .275 with a .344 on-base percentage and .470 slugging percentage last season, well off his .304/.402/.533 career line. He had 18 homers and 70 RBIs; the only time he’s had fewer of either was 2010, when he had 18 homers and 46 RBIs in 95 games.

Still, his 33 doubles in 2011 were his second-most since 2003, and his .814 on-base-plus-slugging percentage was third among National League third basemen. But so far this spring, Jones doesn’t look capable of legging out too many more doubles.

“The big reason for me coming back was my teammates wanted me to come back,” he said. “I still feel like I can be a productive major leaguer. We’ll give it this year and see how it feels.”

He’s endured difficult spring trainings before, but this spring has been even tougher than a year ago when he was coming back from major knee surgery.

“Yeah, and I thought I was in pretty good shape,” he said. “Because I knew it was going to be hard coming into spring. But I was nowhere close to being ready. For the first 10 days we were here, it was painful. As long as I can take care of my knees. My knees have given me the most problems through the years. I dare say if I hadn’t had five knee surgeries I’d be getting around a little better and I’d be feeling a better about things going on my 40th birthday.

“As I alluded to earlier, this game is going to wear you down, whether you have major injuries such as two torn ACLs, menisucus tears – I’ve got no meniscus in the right knee. That takes its toll. I’ve got to go when I can go and tell [manager] Freddie [Gonzalez] when I can’t.”

583 comments Add your comment

New Mexico Lee

March 12th, 2012
6:58 pm

Jesus

March 12th, 2012
6:59 pm

Can this Spring get any worse?!?!?

flange1

March 12th, 2012
7:00 pm

I agree.

WOW

thawk654

March 12th, 2012
7:00 pm

It might be time for Chipper to walk away while he can still walk

BravesCountryBoy

March 12th, 2012
7:01 pm

So sad. The end is near for our old boy at the hot corner. #HOFbound

Bravo

March 12th, 2012
7:01 pm

Hey! Chipper, if you want to keep play. Learn the knuckleball. But seriously, you’ve done great. Retire gracefully and enjoy yourself.

Michael

Kwajbraves

March 12th, 2012
7:02 pm

FW may need to start calling Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez to play LF this year. I’m going to miss Chipper. :(

Bravo

March 12th, 2012
7:02 pm

I am hearing people talk about the Braves coming in last. Not sure I can take that. I’d have to stop watching baseball since the Red Sox are going to stink too.

Chipper's Ligaments

March 12th, 2012
7:03 pm

Time to hang it up, Larry. Go Braves.

Aaron

March 12th, 2012
7:05 pm

This makes me sad. He’s my hero as far as baseball is concerned. Hope I get to see him play one more time.

Kwajbraves

March 12th, 2012
7:05 pm

I know this day was comming but I did not expected to be like this. I hope he gets the chance to get a farewell tour. They need to start engraving his plaque for the HOF now.

DaStuck

March 12th, 2012
7:06 pm

Got my fingers crossed for you big guy. Hope you go out and have fun while it lasts, the end unfortunately is on the horizon. What a great career. A few years from now when we all reflect on it many on these blogs will have a much better prospective. Good Luck this year! Go Braves!

Bob in SF

March 12th, 2012
7:07 pm

That really sounds like “If I can’t get it going soon, I’m thinking about leaving sooner than later.”

Lonnie Smith

March 12th, 2012
7:07 pm

Encouraging sings for March 12th!! Can’t wait to see how he feels six months from now in the middle of September. Go Braves!

PMC

March 12th, 2012
7:09 pm

He’s always like this when he’s having a bad week. I’m not going to get too down just because the team looks bad in spring training. They always have a few terrible weeks to start the year, better to get it out of their system down in Florida.

The competition is tougher this year, they’ll either make the playoffs or fall apart enough to justify making some moves.

PMC

March 12th, 2012
7:10 pm

Yes he’s older, but come on Chipper, it wasn’t going to feel great coming off of surgery the first time you started going hard. Relax guy. You’ll make it. 40 is the new 30.

Kathy

March 12th, 2012
7:11 pm

Even though we all knew this day was coming, it still breaks my heart to read it :(

Lonnie Smith

March 12th, 2012
7:11 pm

Let’s say he does retire before the start of the season of even a couple months in. This will mean the Braves are paying 23 mil in player salaries who don’t play on the team. Nice for a 90 mil payroll!

T. Whetstone

March 12th, 2012
7:12 pm

I’ve never watched a Braves game without #10 on the corner…when its time, its time though right?

Braces-a-Go-Go

March 12th, 2012
7:12 pm

I believe that as much a gamer as Chipper is, he won’t do the honorable thing and retire. He’d be turning down $14 mil. Not sure I would either in his shoes. But it’s pretty obvious to everybody that he’s just hanging in without much ability to help the team. He’d help it more if he retired and let the club use his $14 mil for someone who could actually produce.

Joe

March 12th, 2012
7:12 pm

As much as I love Chipper, the Braves are planning to fail if he’s the No. 3 hitter and everyday third baseman going into this season. :(

GT Alum

March 12th, 2012
7:13 pm

I’ve been one of Chipper’s biggest supporters, but this worries me. I really hope he doesn’t leave the team high and dry with a platoon of Diaz, Hinske and possibly Constanza because Prado’s playing 3B and FW didn’t have time to get anyone better. Or worse, he tries to “play through it” and hits about .150.

Mister Frisky

March 12th, 2012
7:13 pm

Prado to 3rd.Still time to get a bat in left.

Strikeoutlookin

March 12th, 2012
7:16 pm

I named my daughter Shea after Chipper…. Sadly, we may be a better team with Prado at 3rd…. Trade for David Wright maybe?? You know the Mets would LOVE to get rid of his salary.

GT Alum

March 12th, 2012
7:17 pm

Lonnie Smith -

Actually, my understanding is if he just out and retires, he doesn’t get the rest of the money. The more likely outcome is that he and the Braves negotiate a reduced buyout.

Tampa Gator

March 12th, 2012
7:17 pm

To me…it sounds like Chipper no longer believes in himself or is having much fun playing the game. Most people hand it up when they find themselves in that situation. Prado everyday at third gives the Braves a better chance of winning anyway. But who plays left? Maybe Liberty can afford to trade for a bat in LF if Chipper calls it a career.

Bayou Brave

March 12th, 2012
7:17 pm

Chipper, you are the best!

Steve

March 12th, 2012
7:18 pm

Make the Trade for Jones in Baltimore, without giving up Prado.

lee

March 12th, 2012
7:18 pm

Well go!!! only making yourself look like one of thos guys hanging around for the money!! you havent cared about keeping yourself prepared and inshape for the field in years, and havent cared about the game, so please dont start acting like how much it means to you now!!! maybe those 9 million dollars do!! you want a warrior!! look at # 88 that plays for the Falcons!! now thats an athlete!! your a putts!! go away and let a real baseball player take your spot finally please!! you can fall over somewere else!! cant you?

bravesgrl4life

March 12th, 2012
7:19 pm

Will cry the day Chipper announces that it’s over. He and I are basically the same age (I am 6 months older to the day), and I’ve watched him since his MLB debut. I haven’t always liked the way he conducted himself off the field, but he’s always been a team player, and often has put the team above his own desires. A true Hall of Fame guy, and it will be a sad day in baseball when he’s not on that corner anymore. Sure hope he will be a coach/manager within a couple of years of hanging up the cleats. He’d be one of the best.

GT Alum

March 12th, 2012
7:21 pm

Lee, the word is putz. Guess you don’t know how to spell it because you’re only familiar with the word from people calling you one.

Raul

March 12th, 2012
7:21 pm

Lousy attitude. Cut him.

Skeezix

March 12th, 2012
7:22 pm

I hope he can make it through one more year, but it doesn’t sound good.

told ya so...

March 12th, 2012
7:24 pm

well played,y’all..bringing him back just to have him say “no mas”..just proves his Ego was running the team..”lets do what Larry wants”….NOW WHAT?????

veer

March 12th, 2012
7:24 pm

Fire Gonazlaz and Make Chipper our Manager. I want to see Chipper part of the Braves forever

Steve

March 12th, 2012
7:25 pm

Terdo my be our third baseman this year.

Elizabeth

March 12th, 2012
7:25 pm

Chipper has lliterally been playing for the Braves my whole life, so reading this hurt. We all knew the day was coming though. I was just hoping I wouldn’t be reading this until the last month of the season. Or After we win the world series ;)

Chipper will do what is best for the team, not for him. It’s looking like this will be the end for #10 and I’m glad to say I’ll get to see him in his possible final year of playing.

Looks like we need to look into a new third baseman most likely for next year. Probably just short term though, if we have someone in our farm system who is good enough.

David Wright anyone?

Observant

March 12th, 2012
7:27 pm

Lee is the world’s biggest idiot!

Art F. Dodger

March 12th, 2012
7:28 pm

Chumper pack it in….go home kill deer and let the Braves strangle on the vines….Chumper you could have saved the team by deciding back in October that you were done, but no, you said you needed another year….dang it, now you’re moaning ang groaning and ST isn’t even a 1/4 of the way.

GT Alum

March 12th, 2012
7:28 pm

told ya so…

He was under contract for this season already, and he has rights to block any trade. The Braves couldn’t get rid of him. The only person who could decide that Chipper wouldn’t be back this year is Chipper.

Yup, your right

March 12th, 2012
7:29 pm

We have no 3rd baseman and you know already that Chipper won’t make the season. He will be out more then hes in and that hurts the team. We have bad hitting anyway, He needs to go now while we have time to replace him and have that player get comfortable. If he stays hes just being selfish. Remember when he said if he can no longer play every day he would leave. He would never hurt the team. Well that hurt actually started 3 years ago. He really should have left with Cox. Wish him the best but we need a team on the field, not a vet on the bench.

Frank Gerber

March 12th, 2012
7:30 pm

For God’s sake, then retire before the season starts!

BRAVESFAN

March 12th, 2012
7:30 pm

Fans: “I don’t know if we can make it through this year”

Mr. Enigma

March 12th, 2012
7:31 pm

@GT Alum

Any team can release anyone whenever they want. The Braves could designate him for assignment or outright release him right now if they wanted.

Observant

March 12th, 2012
7:31 pm

Chipper deserves to decide when it’s time, no one else.

Crystal

March 12th, 2012
7:32 pm

Chipper is the man. I love him dearly, but he needs to give it up before he ends up in a wheel chair.

Greg Norton's Batting Average

March 12th, 2012
7:33 pm

I’m not usually one to be negative, but Chipper has looked damn feeble for the rare times he’s actually been out there this spring.

Ride out into the sunset now, shift Prado to 3B, and either stick a Diaz/Constanza platoon in LF or trade some pitchers for a OF bat.

Braves Teach

March 12th, 2012
7:33 pm

I cried reading the blog post & comments two years ago when he hurt his knee with his parents in the stands in Houston. I thought it might be over then. This is gut-wrenching. I’ve literally spent my entire adult life watching Chipper as a Braves. He was a Macon Brave while I was in collegeat Mercer and came up to Atlanta when I moved here after graduation.
Hoss, you are THE man. You are the Braves to me every bit as much as Hank Aaron & Dale Murphy. Truthfully, you are the Braves to me even more than Glavine, Smoltz, & Maddux.

StevoDeg

March 12th, 2012
7:34 pm

Gonna be a sad day for all of us when Chipper hangs ‘em up, whether you’ll admit it or not. He’s the heart and soul of the Braves, and he’s been the face of the Braves ever since I’ve been following.

told ya so...

March 12th, 2012
7:34 pm

Alum~

“He was under contract for this season already, and he has rights to block any trade. The Braves couldn’t get rid of him. The only person who could decide that Chipper wouldn’t be back this year is Chipper”.======”Lets Do Whatever LARRY Wants To Do”…CUT BAIT!!!! Pay HIM,And CUT BAIT!!!

Steve

March 12th, 2012
7:34 pm

Agreed, Observant. He has given everything he has to the Braves.

Tim

March 12th, 2012
7:34 pm

Wow. Talk about a change of tune. Chipper sounded great at the start of the spring. Now he sounds like he’s gonna retire today.

Gwinnett Fred

March 12th, 2012
7:35 pm

In any event, he becomes the rare player that plays his entire career with one organization.

When he enters the HOF in ‘17 or ‘18, there will be no doubt what hat he will be wearing.

I’m 52 and my knees ache just walking down the stairs in the morning – it’s no fun. He doesn’t need the money and I hope he doesn’t jeopardize his mobility in later years for a few more at bats (though double knee replacement doesn’t sound enticing, just ask Bobby Cox how much better you can get around afterwards).

All this aside, yes, it sure would be nice to have something good come out of Disney World one of these days!

Bravesfan54

March 12th, 2012
7:35 pm

Sounds like Chipper has either hit the wall, or it looms big in his sight. If the right knee stops hurting, if he turns a couple of pitches and there is no bite, that’s a story, but then again “if he’s plum wore out”, that’s another story.

told ya so...

March 12th, 2012
7:36 pm

His EGO Will Not Be Missed!!!!

GT22

March 12th, 2012
7:36 pm

Chipper needs to quit looking for a pity party and either get his butt in gear or retire. It’s this type of attitude and general lack of a sense of urgency that has killed this franchise for years. Two seasons ago he was saying the same garbage in July until someone told him to put up or shut up and he finished strong until the knee injury. Quit whining and produce Chipper or call it a career and give someone else a chance. No shame in doing that. You’ve had a great run.

Bravo

March 12th, 2012
7:37 pm

I do have an idea….Let him be the hitting coach. We have not had one in years.

alanfalcon

March 12th, 2012
7:37 pm

Chipper, too many questions, 40 is a breaking point for most of us, true there are a few and I emphasize (few) that go beyond. If you have these questions in spring training, well stop and thinke what its going to be in Aug./Sept..
You really might want to think this over, it might be best to bow out now and not with a complete body/skill breakdown, it may be time to let a younger man tadke your spot so the team doesn,t have to carry you as you have had to carry them over the years.
Wise words form a man who remembers being 40, I’m sure there are plenty of others. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eric B

March 12th, 2012
7:38 pm

I love Chipper, I do, but Ive been saying all off-season he was hurting us(with his salary) more than he was helping us(health and production). Now that he’s finally admitting it to himself maybe we can actually start filling the holes we have with more than good feelings, perfect scenarios needing to be played out, bubble gum and duct tape…maybe.

Tim

March 12th, 2012
7:38 pm

If the Mets put David Wright up for auction during the season Frank Wren needs to pay the price in both contract and prospects.

The Braves come next spring could look greatly different. We could have no Chipper, Hudson, Bourn, Prado, Jurrjens, Hinske, Ross and who knows who else could be gone!

kerryb

March 12th, 2012
7:38 pm

Joey T better be ready this year. He’s going to be needed sooner than he thought.

Crystal

March 12th, 2012
7:38 pm

Looks like we have some ladies on here tonite.

GT Alum

March 12th, 2012
7:39 pm

Mr. Enigma -

Yeah, and they still have to pay his contract, which helps the Braves how? Not to mention you tick off another legend, plus apparently most of the rest of your players. And Wren was already trying to acquire a LF this offseason. If they had cut him, they could’ve expanded their search to be for a LF or 3B, but would it really be worth it to pay $25M for players to just go away, especially when you’re not sure if he’s done?

Maybe I oversimplified – the Braves didn’t have a good option to get rid of Chipper, even if they wanted to.

KBB

March 12th, 2012
7:39 pm

hang it up chipper, we can get that .280 and 17 homers from someone else

messy jackson

March 12th, 2012
7:43 pm

Hey Chipper – L.I.G. (let it go) old man!

RBigFish

March 12th, 2012
7:44 pm

Chipper has never been one to play hurt. Remember when Smolztie called him out a few years ago ?

told ya so...

March 12th, 2012
7:44 pm

Got a feeling this is gonna end on an Embarrassing Note…. ala Smolz,and Glavine

“Larry,Please Exit the Building,or We will Have Security Escort You Out”

Silver Bean

March 12th, 2012
7:45 pm

Time to Hang ‘em Up. Make room for somebody that will actually benefit the team.

scott

March 12th, 2012
7:45 pm

perhaps this is just slightly out of context….since he was likely asked about “next season” and he probably said “hell with next year, the way im feeling i dont know if i can get thru this season”

totally understandable…take things 1 day at a time and he will be fine

Crystal

March 12th, 2012
7:46 pm

KBB, Why are you condemning Chipper? He has always given the team everything he had. HOF will come calling. I have watched ever since i was big to know what was going on and has always been my hero.

dap01

March 12th, 2012
7:47 pm

I am a huge fan and the Braves need him.

Bravos

March 12th, 2012
7:48 pm

Sad day for a braves fan! Chipper has been on the hot corner my whole braves life..i was there for the last WS game in 95′..GREAT CAREER!! We love ya Chip!

messy jackson

March 12th, 2012
7:49 pm

I am a huge fan and the Braves need him (as the third base coach).

GT Alum

March 12th, 2012
7:49 pm

RBigFish -

You mean shortly before Smoltzie ended up getting injured and missing a year? Yeah, I remember that.

And I remember how Chipper said last season Heyward would learn to play through pain. Funny how that goes.

oasisbraves

March 12th, 2012
7:49 pm

Make the right decision Chipper. Our hearts will be sad but we knew this day would come. You made us proud… Everything you gave us will stay preserved in the history books.

Larry

March 12th, 2012
7:49 pm

“Tomorrow might be my last day,”

One can only hope. His time has passed about 2 seasons ago.

Appreciate his contribution and, less the more than a few times of lethargic runs to first base and unacceptable susceptibility to injury, tenure and contributions but the money he is trying up this organization so badly needs to field a team capable of playing with the Phillies.

Prado can play 3rd and we’ll be more than able to sign a great power hitting right fielder.

Silver Bean

March 12th, 2012
7:50 pm

How can somebody that knocks up a Hooter’s waitress be your hero? Get a clue.

Seattle Braves

March 12th, 2012
7:50 pm

Because of the anouncement, Frank Wren is making arrangements at Turner Field.

1. Installing a walker with wheels at the third base corner. (note to Wren, “dont forget the tennis balls”)
2. Invest in the new Girtle to hold up that new Chipper 40 year old look.
3. Install escalators along side the base path, so Chipper can make it around the bases.
4. Implenment a softball to be used when Chipper is on the field.
5. Change intro song of “Crazy Train” to “This old man” (knick nak patty wak, give a dog a bone. This old man is rolling home)

bostonbravo

March 12th, 2012
7:51 pm

Chip just trying to let us know…”I am DONE”.

Who Me?

March 12th, 2012
7:51 pm

Chipper, you need to leave with some dignity brother. Bite the bullet and turn over the keys but go out on your terms. I’ve been a fan since ‘66 and appreciate everything you’ve done for this club. You’re a lock for the 1st ballot. But it’s time to do what’s best for the team, not for Chipper.

Go home, play with your kids, and please please come back quickly as our Hitting Coach. The team still needs you bro, just in a different role.

steve

March 12th, 2012
7:51 pm

70-92 and 5th place in the NL East. See… this is why they needed another big bat and didn’t do ANYTHING in the off season. Can we have some new owners please?

Matt

March 12th, 2012
7:53 pm

Chipper have a great season! Go out on your on terms. Your the best!!!

messy jackson

March 12th, 2012
7:53 pm

Have the Braves really had enough time to get over their epic collpapse last year? I think not.

phil

March 12th, 2012
7:53 pm

He’s done guys.

Sad. I hate it.

tmc

March 12th, 2012
7:54 pm

and Frank Wren wanted to get rid of Martin Prado…

imagine if he did trade him for a LF. Where would third base be then?

"Chef" Tim Dix

March 12th, 2012
7:54 pm

I sometimes say the same thing and then I look at the pics in my wallet and slog on…And I’ll be 50 in 58 days…

seeyaChump

March 12th, 2012
7:54 pm

Who saw this coming? I tell ya, the way the Braves are playing I am all a tither about this season.

BJ

March 12th, 2012
7:54 pm

Bravo, I agree….he is too talented to not help the team…..hitting coach is ideal…..bench coach is ideal….Chipper knows what it takes to play in total shape/health for this is important for the team to have a chance to bring it home in Sept….I truly think he will ponder and make the right decision. What a talent!!!!!

messy jackson

March 12th, 2012
7:55 pm

Its really not sad – the guy is filthy rich (or should be?) and should have retired after last year.

Larry

March 12th, 2012
7:55 pm

“The big reason for me coming back was my teammates wanted me to come back,”

Sure, Chipper. Everyone knows the 14 mil guaranteed had nothing to do with it!

He really needs to zip it before he removes all doubt of those who question his integrity…

Crystal

March 12th, 2012
7:56 pm

Silver Bean, I have no idea what you are talking about. Did I miss something?

Who Me?

March 12th, 2012
7:57 pm

@Chef Tim – gotcha by 3 years and it ain’t that bad…

I’m not real sure what all the hullaballoo is about, it’s not like we didn’t all know this was coming. And if the Braves as an organization aren’t prepared for this, it really is time to call in the dogs…

Lowcountry Brave

March 12th, 2012
7:57 pm

Anyone know how Terdo is doing down there this year? I hope he’s ready.

rotomeister

March 12th, 2012
7:59 pm

The real news here is that Chipper, as quoted by ESPN The Magazine, urged Wren not to make a major roster move during the off season. But if Chipper goes down and Prado moves to 3rd Base, who plays LF? Diaz? Hinske? Really? How about Prado as a utility man playing alot at 3B and a power bat in left field every single day? Might be able to get excited about that. And, DOB, what’s with the “likely” on the HOF. You really have a doubt? Most baseball writers have dropped the word “likely” from the scenario. Why not you?

I Gave Her Undertaker eyes

March 12th, 2012
7:59 pm

*yawns* nothing new should have retired his old ass instead of being greedy with that huge last payday

seeyaChump

March 12th, 2012
8:00 pm

Now if only Fredi would fess up and admit he is not a manager. Chip needs to take over the the roll of hitting coach. He would be great. And fredi needs to go. Sure wish the Braves would have been a little aggressive this winter. Think they do too?

phil

March 12th, 2012
8:00 pm

It is sad, period.

Of course money was part of it, but i hardly blame him.

VinceVanGo

March 12th, 2012
8:00 pm

I guess Bobby Cox definitely knew when to retire, he saw the hand writing on the wall. He must have known that by 2012 the whole left side of the field would be in complete disarray. Kudos to Bobby.

phil

March 12th, 2012
8:01 pm

Fire FG!!

This is his fault.

Ty Cobb's Soul

March 12th, 2012
8:02 pm

Fredi: Chipper, you’re not really thinking ’bout hangin’ ‘em up, are ya?”
Chipper: “Na, just playin’ possum to fool the competition.”
Fredi: “Shew, you gave me one hell-of-a scare. So, you’ll be able to go tomorrow, right?”
Chipper: “Don’t think so. My knee is a bit sore.”
Fredi: “I need a drink.”
Chipper: “I’ll drive – I know where a Hooters is.”

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