TUESDAY: Jones said yesterday that he's not sure if he'll make it through the season, but he was just joking, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman. "It was tongue and cheek. I was kidding," Jones said. "I just got done playing eight innings with three at-bats. I was a little tired. I wasn't by any means suggesting I couldn't make it through the season."
MONDAY: Chipper Jones spoke to reporters today (including David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) about his health and future in the game, and the veteran third baseman sounded less than optimistic about both topics.
"The body is starting to tell me every morning when I wake up that [retirement] is getting close," Jones said. "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….I don’t know if I can make it through this year."
Jones turns 40 in April and has been hinting about retirement for the last two seasons, so it's perhaps no surprise that he seems to be leaning towards hanging up his cleats after 2012. Then again, Jones didn't retire in 2010 nor after last season, so he could easily once again change his mind once he works through the offseason rust.
“The big reason for me coming back was my teammates wanted me to come back,” Jones said. “I still feel like I can be a productive major leaguer. We’ll give it this year and see how it feels.”
This is the last guaranteed season of Jones' contract with the Braves, who hold a $7MM option on their long-time star for 2013. That option will vest (and grow to $9MM) should Jones play in 123 games this season. He has passed the 123-game mark four times in the last seven years, including playing 126 games in 2011. Jones missed time last season due to arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the fifth overall surgery he's endured on his knees.
"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," Jones said. "That takes its toll. I’ve got to go when I can go and tell Fredi [Gonzalez] when I can’t.”
Martin Prado is Atlanta's primary backup option at third base. Jones' questionable physical condition is no doubt a major reason why the Braves held onto Prado despite a plethora of trade rumors this winter.