Chipper Jones: "you can make absurd amounts of money playing this game"

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Ken Rosenthal interviewed Chipper Jones and asked him about his decision to try a comeback next year. Jones says he’ll only continue to play if he can be an effective player. The key question: given the denial inherent in a professional athlete’s psyche, how will he know if he can still be effective?

I’ll know probably the first month of the regular season. Spring
training is always just to knock the rust off. You feel a little slow.
Maybe you’re not getting to balls that you would during the regular
season — the bat speed is not there.

All that stuff has a way of playing itself out. Usually you’re caught
up a couple of weeks, a month into the season. You’re primed and ready. I
don’t expect to come out in spring training the first game and be in
midseason form. That will take some time, a couple of weeks, a month.

Worth noting at this point that Jones was batting .230 with two home runs after the first month of the 2010 season. Did he still feel effective then? I assume so. But if he does the same thing next year, will he really hang it up?

We thought we had the answer to that question earlier this year when Jones gave off signals that he’d walk away from his contract early if he didn’t turn it around because he had so many other things that will hold his interest after leaving baseball.  But he tells Rosenthal something interesting on that score:

I enjoy other things in life. My family is a big part of that. I
honestly think that while I’m still competitive — and while I will miss
that terribly — I have other things that I enjoy doing and want to do.
You have a shelf life where you can make absurd amounts of money playing
this game. I will take advantage of that shelf life for as long as I
can.

Tone is everything, and only Rosenthal knows the tone for sure, but that last sentence could easily be read as a repudiation of the those leave-before-my-contract-is-up comments from earlier in the year.

The Braves will certainly put up with Jones drawing lots of walks but doing little else like he did early this season, thus allowing him to continue to “take advantage of that shelf life.”  But does Chipper really considering such an indulgence to be the same thing as “being an effective player?”

It’s too early to cut bait on the Braves 2010 season, but I’m already starting to think about the 2011 season and wonder what it will hold for Chipper Jones.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.