Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has his doubts, but Chipper Jones hopes to return from the disabled list as soon as he’s eligible Friday against the Blue Jays.
According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones took batting practice today for the first time since undergoing surgery on May 26 to drain a hematoma on his lower left leg. The hematoma developed after he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Rays’ center fielder B.J. Upton back on May 18.
Jones is scheduled to have the stitches removed from his left leg tomorrow. While Gonzalez would prefer that he play a couple rehab games in order to get his timing back, the 40-year-old third baseman essentially says he’s getting too old for this you-know-what.
“I just feel like if I’m healthy enough to go down to play [in the minors], I’m healthy enough to stay here and play,” Jones said. “I’m not trying to help us win a Governor’s Cup [the Triple-A International League trophy]. I’m trying to help us win the National League East. And obviously the more I can be here, the happier I am. And we’ve fared pretty good with me in the lineup, so that’s my goal.”
“This is going to be the Gonzalez-Jones soap opera. The last answer I got from him was … he didn’t give me an answer. That’s what my wife usually does to me when she’s not really onboard.” [Laughter.]
Jones, who began his 19th and final major league season on the disabled list following knee surgery, is hitting .307/.377/.485 with five homers, 24 RBI and an .862 OPS across 144 plate appearances this year.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.