Chipper Jones “never wanted Yunel to leave” the Braves

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The Braves kicked off an interleague series against the Blue Jays tonight, so a natural topic of conversation before the game was Yunel Escobar’s return to Atlanta.

It wasn’t too long ago that Escobar was considered the Braves’ long-term solution at shortstop, but he was traded to the Blue Jays last July along with left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes for shortstop Alex Gonzalez, left-hander Tim Collins and infielder Tyler Pastronicky. He was batting just .238/.334/.284 prior to the trade and had taken up residency in Bobby Cox’s doghouse.

While some assumed that the veteran leadership of the club was also fed up with Escobar’s antics, Chipper Jones told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today that he was actually one of his biggest supporters.

“I think it probably worked out good for both sides,” Jones said. “I think maybe he might have needed a chance of scenery, may have needed to go somewhere where there were some influential Latin players who could, you know, show him the way and how it’s done.

“It worked out good for him. He got an extension with Toronto. But I never wanted Yunel to leave. I’ve been a big fan of Yunel all along, because the guy’s a good player. You figured if if he maybe turned the corner maturity-wise, that he could be a perennial All-Star. I really felt that way. It’s unfortunate how it worked out, but maybe it worked out for the best for both sides.”

Entering play Monday, Escobar is batting .278/.349/.394 with 12 homers and 42 RBI over 564 plate appearances as a member of the Blue Jays. The 28-year-old agreed a two-year, $10 million contract extension yesterday which includes $5 million club options for 2014 and 2015.

Randy Johnson IS Nuke LaLoosh in the Dbacks’ remake of “Bull Durham”

Arizona Diamondbacks
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Over the weekend the Arizona Diamondbacks unveiled their 20th Anniversary Team, as voted on by Dbacks fans. Among the quite obvious inclusions were Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez and Paul Goldschmidt. Others included Miguel Montero at catcher, Jay Bell at second Tony Womack at short, Matt Williams at third and Steve Finley and A.J. Pollock in the outfield. The rest of the team — there’s a full rotation, relievers and backups too — can be found here. There will be a ceremony at Chase Field in honor of the franchise’s 20th anniversary, with the all-time Dbacks team being introduced.

In the runup to that, however, there is time for some fun promotion. Like the video below in with some of the members of the 20th anniversary team reenacting the mound meeting scene from “Bull Durham.”

Miguel Montero carries it — he’s the only one who seems to have acting chops in the scene — but team CEO Derrick Hall is the MVP for his camcorder wave in my view. Oh, and extra credit to Bob Brenly and Luis Gonzalez for wearing the 2001 uniforms: