Chipper Jones to begin rehab assignment tonight with Class A Rome

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UPDATE: David O’Brien now says that Jones will serve as the designated hitter for Class A Rome tonight and either DH or play third base tomorrow.

3:46 PM: Here’s a sudden and surprising change of plans. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chipper Jones will begin a minor league rehab assignment tonight with Class A Rome. He’s scheduled to play third base over the next two days and if all goes well, he could be activated from the disabled list Monday.

I’m telling ya, this guy is a switch-hitting zombie. No other explanation.

2:03 PM: Chipper Jones was originally expected to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Rome on Thursday, but the Braves pushed back his timetable after he felt some soreness in his surgically-repaired knee while working out with Triple-A Gwinnett earlier this week.

Jones underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee just two weeks ago, so it’s difficult to call this a setback. Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the veteran third baseman will be reevaluated Monday with Tuesday the best-case scenario for him to begin a rehab assignment.

“It’s not like it’s a pulled hammy, it’s a surgically-repaired knee so,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who said he always figured Jones would need closer to three weeks’ recovery time. “I always thought closer to three than two. You’re talking about a 39-year-old knee that’s got a lot of innings in it.”

Jones is batting .259/.340/.428 with eight homers, 46 RBI and a .768 OPS over 329 plate appearances. Martin Prado will move back to left field once he’s ready to return from the disabled list.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.