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.”
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.