It’s Chipper Jones’ final regular-season series in Atlanta, and the Braves brought out the big guns in a pregame ceremony Friday, with Hank Aaron and Bobby Cox paying tribute to the future Hall of Famer.
Aaron gave Jones a third base with the words “Chipper Jones 1993-2012,” and his teammates got him a pool table. The bases and on-deck circles on the field were stamped with a special logo in honor of Chipper. Jones’ No. 10 was painted in the grass in center field.
Speaking to his teammates on the field before the game, Chipper said “I feel like every one of you are my younger brothers. You have done such a great job of coming back after what happened last year. I’m so proud of each and every one of you.”
Unfortunately, the game itself didn’t go so well for Chipper or the Braves. Jones went 0-for-4 and the Braves fell to the Mets 3-1. The team had just four hits off Jon Niese and company.
“I think I had a tear planted in the corner of my eye basically all night,” Jones said afterwards. “It’s pretty tough to hit when you’re misty like that.”
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.