‘Con­sis­tent’ veteran Jones play­ing last year for Braves

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY PAUL NEWBERRY

Flanked by his fam­ily, his for­mer man­ager and a group of teammates he hates to leave be­hind, Chip­per Jones choked up a bit and de­liv­ered the news that’s been loom­ing for years: It’s time to call it a ca­reer. This time, he means it. With his 40th birth­day ap­proach­ing and a long string of in­juries slow­ing him down, Jones an­nounced Thurs­day he will re­tire af­ter one more sea­son as the At­lanta Braves’ third base­man.

“I have ful­filled ev­ery­thing,” Jones said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at the team’s spring train­ing sta­dium in Kis­sim­mee, Fla. “There’s noth­ing left for me to do.”

Jones, who has spent his en­tire 18year ca­reer with At­lanta, ac­tu­ally planned to re­tire af­ter the 2010 sea­son, only to change his mind. As he bat­tled leg is­sues this spring, he openly won­dered if he’d be able to make it through the sea­son.

So, he’ll give it one more year with the Braves, then be­come a full-time dad to his three chil­dren.

He praised the Braves or­ga­ni­za­tion, call­ing Bobby Cox “the great­est man­ager any of us will ever know,” thanked team ex­ec­u­tives John Schuer­holz and Frank Wren for build­ing a peren­nial win­ner and fought back tears as he turned to his teammates.

“I’ve been think­ing about this and the rea­son I stayed around is you guys,” Jones said. “I played on teams where club­house co­he­sion wasn’t there. That never hap­pened with you guys.”

Around base­ball, Jones was praised for his long, con­sis­tent ca­reer, which in­cluded the NL MVP award in 1999, an NL bat­ting ti­tle in 2008 and seven Al­lS­tar games.

Mets third base­man David Wright grew up want­ing to be like Jones.

“He’s been so con­sis­tent, so good for so long,” Wright said. “It’s go­ing be a lit­tle odd look­ing across there and not see­ing Chip­per in uni­form, that’s for sure.”

New York Yan­kees short­stop Derek Jeter, whose 17-year stint with one team is sur­passed only by Jones among ac­tive play­ers, has al­ways been im­pressed by the way the At­lanta player car­ries him­self: a wad of to­bacco in his jaw, a bat­ting glove al­ways dan­gling out of his back pocket when he took the field.

“He just looks like a ballplayer, you know? His ac­tions, his man­ner­isms, ev­ery­thing he does,” Jeter said. ... He’s a Hall of Famer, for sure.”

No mat­ter what hap­pens in his final sea­son, Jones will go down as one of the game’s great­est switch-hit­ters, a guy who could hit for av­er­age (.304 in his ca­reer) and power (454 homers and 1,561 RBIS).

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