The Chipper Jones medical watch begins in earnest today.
Jones is in the lineup for this afternoon’s game against Houston after missing the last two games with a slight tear in the meniscus cartilage in his right knee. Whether he joins the Braves on their seven-game road trip after today depends on how the knee holds up. Manager Fredi Gonzalez didn’t seem overly concerned after batting practice, but the bottom line is that if Jones’ knee bothers him during the game, there’s a chance he’ll skip the road trip and stay home to have arthroscopic surgery.
“From what I know of that type of injury, you can play with it and you can’t hurt it any more,” Gonzalez said.
Translation: Even if the small tear turns into a larger tear, the surgery and rehabilitation would be the same.
Is this worry time? Not yet. Jones was limited to 95 games last season after suffering a torn left ACL. This is only a small tear in the other knee. He received a cortisone shot on Sunday, when he was a late scratch in the series finale against Philadelphia, and said it feels a lot better. If the knee flares up in today’s game, he’ll have arthroscopic surgery and likely miss two to three weeks.
Jones said his knee is mostly irritated when he bats right handed, which he would be doing today against the Astros.
“Right handed is what has irritated it up until this point for the past month,” he said. “There’s not a better time to [test] it than now. We have a lefty today. We’ll know today, probably after the game whether I stay home and have the surgery or go on the road with the club.
“I would rather go out there and test it off a lefty than go out on the road on the West Coast and find out it’s not OK and fly all the way back and get surgery. I’d much rather get it out of the way today. I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in a month. Strap it up and find out.”
Jason Heyward also is back in the lineup today. Here’s the lineup: Martin Prado (7), Heyward (9), Jones (5), Dan Uggla (4), Eric Hinske (3), David Ross (2), Alex Gonzalez (8), Nate McLouth (8) and Derek Lowe (1). Brian McCann is being rested. Gonzalez also wanted to keep Hinske’s bat in the lineup.
By Jeff Schultz