Chipper Jones has been a staple in the Braves clubhouse for years, but the third baseman tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution that this may be his last season.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Is Chipper Jones ready to walk away? Or limp away?
Jones is leaning toward retiring. Jones told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that this could be his last year.
“I’ve said it a million times, it’s hell getting old,” Jones told the AJC.
He turns 40 next month and life on the diamond is getting more and more difficult for the Braves third baseman, who old the AJC that: “Tomorrow might be my last day. I don’t know.’’
He went on to say in the interview with the AJC: “I don’t really focus on it that much. The body is starting to tell me every morning when I wake up that it’s getting close. I’m signed through the end of this year. If I play in a certain amount of games, I got an option for next year. I don’t know what next year entails.’’
The magic number of games this season is 123 for Jones, who is scheduled to make $14 million for this season with a $7 million option that will vest to $9 million if he plays in 123 games.
But he told the AJC: “I don’t know if I can make it through this year.”
He played in 126 games last year but struggled with injuries and saw his batting average drop to .275. Jones hasn’t had a hit in eight spring training at-bats, and he has missed seven of the Braves’ 11 games because of soreness in his leg.
He struggled with his decision to return this year. He told the AJC that he came back because of the encouragement he had from the other members of the Braves.
“The big reason for me coming back was my teammates wanted me to come back,” he told the AJC. “I still feel like I can be a productive major leaguer. We’ll give it this year and see how it feels.”
Still, with most of spring training and an entire season in front of him, Jones, whose knees have been ravaged with injuries, has his doubts.
“I knew it was going to be hard coming into spring. But I was nowhere close to being ready,” he told the AJC. “For the first 10 days we were here, it was painful. As long as I can take care of my knees. My knees have given me the most problems through the years. I dare say if I hadn’t had five knee surgeries I’d be getting around a little better and I’d be feeling a better about things going on my 40th birthday.
“As I alluded to earlier, this game is going to wear you down, whether you have major injuries such as two torn ACLs, meniscus tears — I’ve got no meniscus in the right knee. That takes its toll. I’ve got to go when I can go and tell (manager) Fredi (Gonzalez) when I can’t.”