CINCINNATI – After Chipper Jones took the wrap off his severely bruised and swollen lower left leg on Thursday afternoon, the Braves veteran described how a trainer “milked” the area around his contusion to dissipate the blood and how he felt worse than the day before.
It was unpleasant enough just to listen to his description and look at the grotesquely discolored area stretching from the bottom of his foot up into the top portion of his calf. But for Jones, a veteran of six knee surgeries, this was particularly painful and frustrating.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” said Jones, who missed his sixth consecutive start since being struck just above the ankle by a one-hop grounder Friday at Tampa Bay. “I figured I would be back playing in no more than three or four days. Feeling the way I do today, I think it’s going to be a little bit yet.”
His was just the ugliest of an assortment of health issues for the Braves, who were also without Brian McCann (flu) and Freddie Freeman (vision problems) in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale against Cincinnati, as they tried to avoid a four-game sweep.
The Braves had lost three in a row and four of five, but at least manager Fredi Gonzalez had not lost his sense of humor.
“If we used this lineup in some games, we might get fined in spring training,” Gonzalez said of his reserve-dotted lineup Thursday. “Not enough [regular starters] in there.”
Reliever Jonny Venters also had his bruised left calf wrapped after being struck by a line drive Wednesday, but he hoped to be available to pitch as soon as Thursday. Finally, outfielder Matt Diaz had some similar symptoms as McCann the past two days, though not as severe.
Jones was no longer speculating on when he’d be back.
“My range of motion in my ankle is not back yet, now I’m having trouble firing my calf because of all that [bruising that moved up the calf]. And not to mention that tickles [he pointed to the painful spot where a blister formed and popped atop the hematoma]. Then they wrap it up and put this [bandage] on it, and then I’ve got the protective guard to [wear while hitting], which isn’t real comfortable.
“So it’s kind of a bad deal all the way around.”
Not how the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer wanted to spend any day, much less a day when the Reds honored him during a pregame presentation Thursday. They gave him one of the three special bases that have been used during the series, bearing a message on the side of the Reds “celebrating the career of No. 10 Chipper Jones.”
Even if a 15-day stint on the disabled list retroactive to the day after his last game might have been considered when his condition worsened Thursday, that didn’t seem like an option after Jones was used as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 2-1 loss, his first game action since Friday.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez mentioned the possibility of Jones being available to pinch-hit again Thursday night, and he took batting practice again. But Jones said when he tried to run on Wednesday he couldn’t go much harder than a light jog.
“Anything else past that is impossible,” he said. “And like I say, I’m probably worse off today than I was yesterday.”
Jones said the timing of the injury was particularly bad, with the Braves struggling and about to host a weekend series with Washington, which was a half-game ahead of Atlanta atop the NL East standings before Thursday’s games. It’s the first series between the teams that have held the top spots in the division for most of the season.
“Hopefully we’ll get him in the lineup in one of those games at home during the weekend,” Gonzalez said.