‘Consistent’ veteran Jones playing last year for Braves
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).