Still, he has no intention of putting on a Rome Braves uniform again.
Not today. Not ever.
The Atlanta Braves’ six-time All-Star third baseman — who is recovering from surgery on his lower leg — completed the second day of a weekend rehab assignment with the Rome club on Saturday night and went 0-for-3 during the Braves’ 4-3 comeback win over Augusta at State Mutual Stadium.
The victory was played before a sold-out crowd of 5,105.
Jones, who left the game after the sixth inning, said during a press conference that he hopes to rejoin the Atlanta lineup today when the Braves play the Blue Jays at Turner Field.
“I talked to the trainer and to (Atlanta manager) Fredi (Gonzalez) a few minutes ago, and it looks like I could be back in there (today),” he said.
“There’s not too much more for me to prove in the Sally League. The leg is rock solid.”
Jones, who is retiring after this season, has been sidelined for roughly two weeks with a left calf contusion that required surgery on May 26 to drain a hematoma.
He had an uneventful night on Saturday, with his three plate appearances resulting in a lineout to short, a strikeout (on a called third strike) and a groundout to third.
But Jones wasn’t really interested in having big numbers in the box score. He just wanted to make sure his leg passed another test — and he said it did.
“I felt good tonight,” said Jones. “My leg felt great. All the muscles are working.”
There was originally some talk that Jones would play a third game for the R-Braves, and would be in the lineup for today’s series finale against Augusta.
Instead, it appears he will be in Atlanta.
“I am chomping at the bit to get back in that (Atlanta) uniform,” he said. “And now, that time has come.”
With Jones set to retire at the end of this season, chances are that the sell-out crowd that attended Saturday night’s game probably witnessed Chipper’s final appearance in Rome.
“I hope so,” said Jones with a laugh. “Nobody wants to be on a rehab stop, I can guarantee you that.”
Still, Jones knows there are some upsides to the rehab appearances, especially with the Braves having two minor league affiliates — Rome and Triple-A Gwinnett — located so close to Atlanta.
“It’s nice for the fans who don’t always get to see games in Atlanta,” said Jones. “And (for me), it’s nice to be able to drive 30 minutes to Gwinnett or drive an hour up here (and get some work in).”
Jones has had a good bit of experience with rehab assignments in Rome.
Including Saturday night, he was played eight games with the Rome club during four separate rehab stints at SMS. The list includes one game in 2004; three games in 2005; two games last season and two more this year.
He has gone 5-for-17 (.294) with four RBIs in those eight games, including going 1-for-1 with two walks during Friday’s game. His rehab work has drawn sellout crowds to SMS on several occasions.
Saturday’s sellout was the second of the season at SMS, and the fans were rewarded in two ways: They were able to see a future Hall of Famer, and were treated to one of the best performances of the season from the last-place R-Braves (17-45).
Fueled by a pair of solo homers by Fernando De Los Santos, the Braves overcame an early 3-0 deficit to post the victory.
“I am not sure if De Los Santos was trying to prove something to Chipper or what,” said Rome manager Randy Ingle. “I guess he wanted to show him that he has some power, too. And both of those balls were really hit hard.”
De Los Santos’ second homer of the night, and sixth of the season, tied the game at 3-3 in the eighth.
Three batters later, Kyle Kubitza drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out double. Tony Mueller set up the tie-breaking run with a two-out single.
“The guys battled back tonight,” said Ingle. “We’ve been playing better baseball the past two weeks.”
Reliever Jarrett Miller (3-0) earned the win with 2 1-3 scoreless innings, finishing with two walks and two strikeouts.
Rome starter Greg Ross was credited with a quality start. He allowed eight hits but limited Augusta to three runs in 6 2-3 innings.
ROME BRAVES RECAP
Final: Braves 4,
The turning point:
The Braves were down 3-2 until the bottom of the eighth, when Fernando De Los Santos hit a solo homer, and Tony Mueller scored on Kyle Kubitza’s double.
Who did what for Rome: Chipper Jones went 0-for-3 in his
second game with the Braves before exiting the game after the sixth inning. De Los Santos finished 3-for-3 with two solo home runs and three RBIs. He now has six homers on the
On the mound: Reliever Jarrett Miller improved to 3-0 after holding
Augusta scoreless in the final 2 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out two. Greg Ross pitched the first
6 2-3 innings, allowing three earned runs with three strikeouts.
Game notes: The win, played before a sellout crowd, was the third in the past five games for the Braves.
Next Game: The Braves conclude their series against Augusta today at 2 p.m. at State Mutual Stadium.