Chipper Jones’ left calf injury hasn’t gotten any better over the past couple of days, so the Braves have decided to place him on the disabled list. The team has yet to make a corresponding roster move, but they are likely to call up a catcher after David Ross left last night’s game against the Nationals with a groin injury.
Jones originally injured the calf when he was hit in the leg by a line drive off the bat of Rays’ center fielder B.J. Upton last Friday. While he hasn’t started a game since then, he did appear as a pinch-hitter during Wednesday’s game. This means he won’t be eligible to return until June 8, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told Chris Vilvamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he’ll likely need all 15 days for the injury to heal and perhaps longer.
“They assured me it is going to be 15 days,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not going to be six days [and then he would be healthy enough to return]. It’s going to be the whole 15 days and maybe a little bit longer than that. You are talking 15 days plus six [more days already out of the lineup] without playing. It’s going to be a couple days of rehab also.”
Juan Francisco figures to see more playing time at third base during his absence, but the Braves also have the option of playing Martin Prado at third and Matt Diaz or Eric Hinske in left field.
Jones, 40, is hitting .307/.377/.485 with five homers, 24 RBI and an .862 OPS over 114 plate appearances in his 19th and final season in the majors. He began the year on the disabled list following knee surgery.
The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.
Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.
Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.