ATLANTA --- After seeming on the verge of announcing his retirement, Chipper Jones changed course today and said he won't make a decision until after the season.
The Braves third baseman called the media to his locker before the final game of an interleague series against Tampa Bay, looking to put a halt to the speculation about his future.
"Any more talk of the r-word will be reserved until the end of the season," Jones said. "Somehow the cork got taken out. Well, I'm putting it back in right now.'
For two days, Jones had appeared ready to call it a career. He told The Associated Press he merely needed to work out some "red-tape issues" - including the $28 million he is owed for the final two years of his contract - and indicated he would make an announcement before the end of the homestand on Sunday.
Now, the 38-year-old Jones is taking a different path.
"Honestly, I have not made a decision either way. Let's face it, we all know, sort of, which way I'm leaning," he said, presumably indicating he's still seriously considering retirement after struggling for the second year in a row and battling numerous injuries.
"But I think it's best that we put this all behind us."
When the season is over, Jones said he'll meet with family, friends and other members of his support group to gather their input before he decides whether to return in 2011.
Jones said he's been meeting periodically with team president John Schuerholz and general manager Frank Wren over the past six months to discuss his future. There was another such meeting on Tuesday that also included manager Bobby Cox.
Jones told the AP, "It's obvious that it's something I've been thinking about. I need to go through the proper channels. Once those have all been taken care of, everybody's questions will be answered."
But he apparently decided the speculation about his future could wind up hurting a team that is eager to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The Braves went into tonight's contest leading the NL East by a half-game over the New York Mets.