Chipper Jones has spent the offseason rehabbing his surgically repaired knee and dry-heaving on his neighbor’s lawn, and yesterday general manager Frank Wren told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he should be ready for Opening Day:
I think he’s progressed very well. He had a setback earlier in the winter when he was away for a week–I think he was actually on a hunting trip–and he was not doing the [leg] lifts. But as soon as he got back on his weights, he was fine. Right now, talking to the trainers, he should not have any restrictions coming into spring training.
According to O’Brien, if Jones isn’t ready for Opening Day the Braves will move Martin Prado back to third base and use Eric Hinske, Joe Mather, or Jordan Schafer in left field.
Jones is no longer the middle-of-the-order monster he once was and as a 39-year-old coming off a major surgery he’s a big question mark, but he still finished with an OPS above .800 and prior to the knee injury he was batting .307 with nine extra-base hits and a .924 OPS in 23 second-half games.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: