Chipper’s knee OK after flight; he’ll bat second

DENVER – Chipper Jones was in the Braves lineup Friday for the first time this season on the day after an airplane flight, his surgically repaired left knee not as swollen or uncomfortable as it had been after each of the team’s flights in April.

But the thing he was most excited about – nearly tearful, he joked — was getting to bat again in the first inning. Jones, a longtime No. 3 hitter who has unofficially ceded that spot to Freddie Freeman, was in the lineup in the 2-hole for Friday’s series opener against Colorado, after batting mostly sixth this season.

“I got kind of misty – get to hit in the first inning,” Jones said of seeing his name in the second spot in the lineup. “Forgot what that feels like.”

As he said that, he looked over and smiled at Freeman, 22, seated a few locker stalls away. Freeman smiled sheepishly. He and Jones, 40, have a great relationship and there are no hard feelings from the 40-year-old third baseman about being moved from the spot where he hit for most of his 18 seasons.

“Don’t worry, I won’t be stealing,” Jones said to Freeman. “So you’ve got that hole [up the middle of the field] open.”

Jones batted second Friday in place of Martin Prado, who didn’t feel well and was likely to get a rest for much of the night.

The Braves were glad to have Jones in the lineup after the long flight from Atlanta. Before Friday they had an 11-2 record in games he started, and a 4-9 record when he was out of the lineup.

He said there was only minimal swelling Friday morning in his knee, which has reacted a little better after each recent flight as he’s had more time to rehab and strengthen it since March 26 arthroscopic surgery for torn meniscus. Jones began a new weight-training program for his legs just over a week ago, after Braves head trainer Jeff Porter told him the muscles would atrophy from fluid in the joint if he didn’t do any specific exercises to strengthen them.

Despite starting the season on the disabled list and needing a rest every few games, Jones had a .273 average with four homers and 14 RBIs in 16 games, including pinch-hit appearances. He led Braves regulars with a .509 slugging percentage and .837 OPS.

While he hadn’t previously batted second this season, Jones hit in that spot in seven games during a nine-game stretch in September, batting .267 with three doubles and a homer in 30 at-bats. For his career, Jones had a .302 average, .361 on-base percentage and seven extra-base hits in 53 at-bats in the 2-hole before Friday.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he considered a few lineup combinations Friday including Jason Heyward in the 2-hole. “But then you’ve got Bourn, Heyward, Freeman, [Brian] McCann – four left-handers right there,” Gonzalez said.

He didn’t want to bat Heyward second and Jones third because Gonzalez wanted to keep Freeman in the third spot, where he hit for the 19th time Friday.

“Yeah, Freeman’s done a nice job there,” Gonzalez said. “I think, hopefully, that spot is going to be a great spot for him.”

17 comments Add your comment

kdawg1017

May 4th, 2012
8:25 pm

start all of the negative comments……….now

iTiSi

May 4th, 2012
8:32 pm

OK, here goes. I think FG should give at least two or three more players the night off after a long flight. These “old men” can’t handle these fatiguing things these days. After all, the last game against the Phillies wasn’t important, so why should this one be any different?

pig balls

May 4th, 2012
8:32 pm

DaveinNEPA

May 4th, 2012
8:42 pm

My only beef with Chipper hitting 2nd is his definite lack of footspeed. He’s pretty much station to station on the bases and he probably won’t be able to take the extra base. 4 lefties or not, I think I would rather have Heyward in that 2 hole tonight.

ATLcracker

May 4th, 2012
8:45 pm

I’m afraid it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Braves cooked their young big three relievers last year (maybe not Kimbrel so much) and we paid for it at the end of the season and may pay for it this whole year. I can see this becoming a cautionary tale when discussing future pitching staff workloads that we will be reading about for years to come.

matt

May 4th, 2012
8:46 pm

hey David
What happen to Jim Powell. I caught most of Wednesday game from 6th on and haven’t heard since the 6th. I listen on line

thanks

Max Sizemore

May 4th, 2012
8:59 pm

What you are likely seeing from the Big 3 relievers is regression to the mean, i.e. they aren’t as good as they pitched last year and this season are performing closer to their real abilities.

The Cap Tipper

May 4th, 2012
10:33 pm

Hey guys glad I could give you my help to all your problems… the cap tipper is here….

Get shutout by a perennial #5 starter after scoring 15 runs up against a Cy Young winner the night before, only to have your offense not show up with 4 hits and Zero runs against Joe Blanton….tip your cap!!!!

Start the season with a 4 game losing streak to Houston and NY Mets, the cellar dwellers of their respective divisions…hey they had good pitching….TIP YOUR CAP!!!

Losing your season because of bullpen mismanagement and using Linebrink, Sherill, and Proctor to blow leads last year, only to have Durbin and Livan blow leads this year….Tip your cap!!!

And I honestly cant believe DOB and his journalist credibility attacking a fan trying to make a point at how absolutely pathetic it is for a professional manager to blame so many of his teams and his self errors on “having to tip a cap to the opponent”….that is a terrible manager and I would never want him managing my team, and when a fan points out that this is a horrendous act for a manager, and probably WHY you havent brought it up to him as a decent journalist would….and you ATTACK him with hateful, sarcastic remarks….yeah some “journalist” DOB….You really need to take these cap tipping remarks more seriously, and report that they make him look like a weak, sniveling, loser of a manager that makes excuses for his teams poor play…

David O'Brien

May 4th, 2012
10:38 pm

You really need to take these cap tipping remarks more seriously, and report that they make him look like a weak, sniveling, loser of a manager that makes excuses for his teams poor play — The Cap Tipper

Good point. These remarks are not to be taken lightly. Very serious stuff. Well done. Thank you.

Atlrf44

May 4th, 2012
11:44 pm

Mr Double Switch is at it again!!!just how long will O’Flaherty pitch anyway???OF now consists of Diaz and Hinske./.Bourn better put his running shoes on!!old by the book Freddi!

Atlrf44

May 4th, 2012
11:59 pm

Thank God!!!

AJ in Augusta

May 5th, 2012
12:33 am

You whiners make my want to puke… (as Hinske hits a homer). Can’t you find an automobile accident to cheer?

Brandon

May 5th, 2012
2:05 am

@Cap Tipper — The Houston Astros are also the same team that beat the league leading dodgers 12-0 in a game this season. Didn’t the mets also sweep the marlins and take 2 of 3 from phils? The best teams still lose 60-70 games and the worst teams still win 60-70. You sound like you only enjoy complaining. Why not talk about how the braves took 2 of 3 from dodgers, or how they swept the diamondbacks and brewers? Truth be told, the mets 1,2, and 3 starters are very solid: 2 time cy young johan santana, knuckleballer r.a dickey , and jon niese. So what? The braves got swept…at least they took 2 of 3 from the mets in the next series. Sometimes you do have to give credit to the other teams.

Its not always that the braves don’t show up against the lesser teams…do you ever consider that the lesser teams simply rise to the occasion and play better against the better teams?

Also, the thing i don’t understand about many people that say that fredi mismanaged the bullpen is this…most complain that he overused oventbrel, however, like you, they also complain about him using linebrink, sherrill, and proctor. It makes no sense. Fredi could only work with what he had. Actually, if he did not “mismanage” his bullpen, then the braves would have likely finished far worse than 1 game from the WC. With all the 1 run games, extra inning games, and games where starters like d lowe only pitched 4 innings, i’d say that he did a solid job with his bullpen work.

One more thing about the “cap tipping.” What do expect Fredi to say? If his team is really playing the best that they can and still lose, what else is there for you to do? I think people are making too much of the phrase and i don’t think cap tipping makes him seem weak. Its good sportsmanship. If he responded in another way he might be considered a “sore loser” right?

Stumped

May 5th, 2012
9:31 am

All this “cap tipping!” What’s next? Shaking hands with your opponent after a game (like in NFL)? What is this world coming to?

Orange Brave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

May 5th, 2012
1:13 pm

forget the cap tipping and baseball, I just want to know if Coors beer is discounted at Coor’s Field??

hank aaron

May 5th, 2012
1:58 pm

wasn’t it bobby cox who started using the phrase”tip your cap” after a raves loss?

Mark (another one)

May 5th, 2012
6:09 pm

Don’t take the comments on here too seriously. Just tip you caps to the jerks and move on.

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