Chipper Jones is doing a little more than sparking the Braves with his bat these past few days. He’s been doing his part to keep his teammates loose.
For the first two games of the Arizona series, Jones tried out a new pre-game routine, entertaining his teammates with a dizzying series of high knee jumps while spinning around in the dugout just before the Braves took the field.
Just this side of something former Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar might have done in the on-deck circle?
“No, those are young legs,” said a smiling 40-year-old Jones, who has knees that have been surgically repaired six times.
Jones said it evolved out of the pre-game ritual where he and his teammates go into a series of handshakes, high-fives, chest pumps and such. For him, it’s rooted in wanting to do something to help the team relax at an important stretch during the season.
“If I can make these guys laugh and it loosens them up, that’s what leading by example is,” Jones said. “You can’t play this game tight and nervous and passive. You’ve got to go out and go play the game, have fun. That’s what it’s all about. The more relaxed these guys are, the better they’re going to play.”
Jones did it first on Tuesday night, then proceeded to get three hits in the win, his first three-hit game since May 5. He did it Wednesday night too, and went out and hit a two-run homer, his first since May 4, and it accounted for the winning runs in a 6-4 victory over Arizona.
When asked if it was going to become a daily routine on Thursday afternoon, Jones smiled and said, “Well, I don’t feel good every day.”
With all the attention his routine had generated by Thursday afternoon, Jones elected not to do it before Thursday’s game, just stretching his legs with some high knee kicks and taking the field. But the sentiment has already taken hold with his teammates.
“Chipper is on a different level right now with how much energy he’s had the last couple days,” second baseman Dan Uggla said. “It’s fun to watch. He’s been feeling great. He’s centering balls up. He’s been having great at-bats and I think he’s about to go off.”