Eight days removed from arthroscopic knee surgery, Chipper Jones took his first swings in batting practice Tuesday afternoon and felt good enough to start trying to talk his way back into action earlier than expected.
He and the Braves have been projecting the home opener April 13 against the Brewers for his return, since Jones’ left knee surgery on Monday, March 26. But after taking nearly 60 swings pain-free on Tuesday, Jones thinks he might be able to do better than that.
“Aiming for (April 13), but optimistic that it might be a little sooner than that,” Jones said. “We’ll just have to see how the next week goes.”
Jones will travel with the Braves to New York on Wednesday and begin to intensify his work in the field after taking 20 groundballs Tuesday. At the plate, though, Jones said he couldn’t be happier with how he comfortable he felt, and that was while using Brian McCann’s bats.
“I was afraid that the swing might have gone somewhere over the last eight days but if it did slip away it hasn’t slipped too far,” Jones said. “I was very pleased with the way the ball was coming off the bat. I was staying inside the ball, hitting the ball to all fields. And I had no pain, so that’s the most important thing.”
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Tuesday the Braves might send Jones out to get in a minor league rehabilitation game or two, when he’s ready. Jones would prefer not to but said he would.
“Hopefully I’ll have some big strides here in the next three or four days,” Jones said. “But the bottom line is I’m going to have to prove to these guys that I can go out swing, run the bases, and go all out on defense.”
As optimistic as he is, Jones said he didn’t think he’d be ready to pinch hit in the Mets series.
“As I sit here right now I would say no,” Jones said. “Swinging in bp is one thing but coming out of the box is a completely different thing, especially left-handed where that’s kind of my turn-and-burn leg. I don’t really know if I’m quite at that point yet.”