WASHINGTON – Chipper Jones’ best laid plans to play every game of the Nationals series changed in about the ninth inning of Monday’s 13-inning marathon loss to the Nationals.
Jones knew by the end of the game his knees and back weren’t going to let him play Tuesday. He was out of the lineup, with Juan Francisco in there against Stephen Strasburg, and Jones plans to get back in Wednesday against left-hander Ross Detwiler.
Francisco went 2-for-3 against Strasburg on May 26.
“After about the ninth or 10th inning, I was pretty much toast,” said Jones, who has been battling a stiff back on and off since waking up from a bad night’s sleep on a hotel bed in New York Aug. 9. “The ball that (Kurt) Suzuki hit (in the 13th), I couldn’t even bend down to get it, I just kicked it.”
Jones said he wouldn’t have thrown Suzuki out anyway, but knew he needed to rest up after that. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez sent Jones a “courtesy” text Tuesday morning to find out for sure but said he knew the answer.
Gonzalez joked with Jones Tuesday that it was games like Monday’s – four hours and 27 minutes long – that reinforced his decision to retire.
“I even commented to (Nationals third base coach) Bo Porter and (umpire) Dana DeMuth down there at third base last night,” Jones said. “I am not going to miss these games whatsoever.”
Unless the Braves come back to face the Nationals in the playoffs, Wednesday will be Jones’ last game at Nationals Park. The Nats plan to honor him in a pre-game ceremony. Jones said his former Braves teammates and good friends Adam LaRoche and Mark DeRosa will do the presenting. He said he didn’t know yet what he’ll get but was guessing “a walker.”
Jones hasn’t had a pre-game presentation since the Boston Red Sox presented him with a No. 10 from the hand-operated scoreboard in Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” on June 24. To have something presented in the middle of a pennant race against the team the Braves are chasing doesn’t feel strange, Jones said.
“I really don’t look at it any differently,” Jones said. “I’ve got a lot of friends over in that clubhouse. A lot of ex-teammates, guys that I got to know at All-Star games and whatnot. I played for Davey (Johnson) at the WBC. So there’s a lot of connections between the two sides.
“We have a lot of respect for each other on both sides. When we’re out there between the lines, it’s a war every time. I think that’s why both teams respect each other so much.”