Vivlamore reporting from Lake Buena Vista where the Braves play the Mets this afternoon.
There was so much to report from the Chipper Jones’ retirement (following the 2012 season) yesterday that I couldn’t possibly get to all of it. I thought I would share a couple of quotes I just couldn’t fit in.
On moving on: “I’ve been in professional baseball for 23 years. That’s a long time to do anything. I feel now that it’s time to do something else. I’ve got four reasons right here. I’ve got four little boys who’ve had a part-time father for a long time. They have sacrificed a lot and I think it’s about time I start paying them back.”
On his start: “The Braves organization has been great to me. It started with general manger Bobby Cox, who drafted my No. 1 overall in 1990, two days after I graduated high school. You are talking about an 18 year-old kid who didn’t know much about life but Bobby took a flyer on me and I’ve said many times I’ve spent the last 23 years trying every day to make him proud and make him not have to answer questions about why he took some young punk from central Florida with the No. 1 pick.”
On reflections of his career: “Now that I’ve made the decision I think it will start flooding back. All the highlights and the great plays and the home runs they kind of run together but the one thing I’m going to miss is the camaraderie with the guys in the clubhouse. … I think over the next six months it will all come flooding back to me, slowly but surely.”
On whether he was ever close to leaving the Braves: “Never, ever. I was never a free agent. I was never close to being a free agent. Whenever free agency was just about to come up on the horizon, we sat down and got something hammered out.”
On informing his teammates of his decision: “I told me teammate a week or 10 days ago that this was going to be it. I looked into each and everyone of their eyes and said please allow me to get my ducks in a row, allow me to be able to thank the people I need to thank. They respected my wishes. That was the ultimate sign of respect.”
I talked to Brian McCann this morning on playing with Jones. “I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today, if I hadn’t had a chance to play with him,” the catcher said. “Get a chance to see baseball through his eyes and see the way he sets up pitchers and the way he thinks. He is the smartest baseball guy I’ve ever been around. I feel very lucky to have been able to pick his brain about a lot of things.
“This guy is on a whole other level when it comes to intelligence on a baseball field. He gets the game. He understands swings. He understands everything. That is why he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Not only can he play, but he has the mental side of the game to dominate.”
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said following yesterday’s game against the Mets that the battle for the starting shortstop position will go down to the wire – and maybe beyond.
“We are going to let it play out almost to the end,” said Gonzalez, who will continue to rotate Andrelton Simmons and Tyler Pastornicky at the position. “Every time Pastornicky shows up something, it’s a plus. Same thing with Simmons, when he does something good it’s a plus. It’s an interesting thing. It’s one of those situations whoever we may take [north] may not be the guy you end up with anyway. It’s a long season. We could go with Pastornicky and in another month Simmons comes. Or you break with Simmons and Pastornicky comes a month later. It’s a long season and we still have to let it play out a little bit.”
Pastornicky went 4-for-5 Thursday in a tie against the Marlins. He admitted afterward that he has been putting extra pressure on himself this spring, knowing what is at stake.
Pastornicky said his pinch-hit single in extra innings Wednesday against the Nationals helped re-focus his confidence.
“One hundred percent,” he said. ” It was one of those things where you start having some good at-bats, start making some good swings and it’s a confidence thing. I can do this. I am here.”
Simmons will start today against the Mets.
The Braves have re-assigned five players to the minor leagues: C Christian Bethancourt, LHP Dusty Hughes, INF Ernesto Mejia, RHP Adam Russell, and INF Joey Terdoslavich.
Lineup vs. Mets
1. Michael Bourn, CF
2. Martin Prado, LF
3. Brian McCann, C
4. Dan Uggla, 2B
5. Freddie Freeman, 1B
6. Drew Sutton, 3B
7. Jose Constanza, RF
8. Andrelton Simmons, SS
9. Mike Minor, P