Successful rehab leaves Chipper feeling 'great'

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. --- Chipper Jones was done. Through. Ready to go home and spend some time with his four boys.

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Atlanta's Chipper Jones, who is coming back from knee surgery, has regained his passion for the game at 38.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Atlanta's Chipper Jones, who is coming back from knee surgery, has regained his passion for the game at 38.

Yet here he is, sitting at that familiar locker in a corner of the Atlanta Braves' spring training clubhouse.

The hair is flecked with gray now. The face is wrinkled and weathered. There are days when he shuffles around like an 80-year-old, looking as though it takes every bit of strength just to put one leg in front of another.

Jones, it seemed for so long, was one of those ballplayers who would never grow old. Time has caught up with Chipper. He put off retirement last year, but he'll mark his 39th birthday before April is done.

He knows there's a lot more games behind him than in front of him. He's come to grips with that, better than one might think considering baseball is about all he's ever done.

"I don't think I'll have as much problem with it as most people," Jones said. "I've actually been looking forward to it. I still love coming in here. I love the camaraderie with the guys. I love being with my fraternity brothers, so to speak. But I also have a lot to look forward to once the game is over for me."

Jones, who came so close to retiring last June, has found his passion again. It returned in the heat of summer, when that tiny white sphere began to look as big as a beach ball, flying off his bat like it did in his prime.

Interestingly enough, when Jones went down in August with a season-ending knee injury, that ensured he would come back for another year instead of hanging up his cleats. He needed a goal in front of him to get through the grind of treatment and rehab. Spring training, which started at exactly the same time he reached the sixth-month mark for getting cleared for full activity, was the perfect motivator.

"I figured if I showed up down here in constant pain, I'd probably hang it up," Jones said. "But I feel great. I'm swinging the bat good. I'm moving around good. And I think we have a really good team. That excites me more than anything."

The Braves, who made the playoffs without him, wonder what they can do with him. Jones still has two more years on his contract, and the plan now is to play it out.

"When I'm done, I'm going to look in the mirror," Jones said, "and be ecstatic with what I've accomplished."

Jones' career stats in atlanta

YEAR G AB R H HR RBI BB K AVG

1995 140 524 87 139 23 86 73 99 .265

1996 157 598 114 185 30 110 87 88 .309

1997 157 597 100 176 21 111 76 88 .295

1998 160 601 123 188 34 107 96 93 .313

1999 157 567 116 181 45 110 126 94 .319

2000 156 579 118 180 36 111 95 64 .311

2001 159 572 113 189 38 102 98 82 .330

2002 158 548 90 179 26 100 107 89 .327

2003 153 555 103 169 27 106 94 83 .305

2004 137 472 69 117 30 96 84 96 .248

2005 109 358 66 106 21 72 72 56 .296

2006 110 411 87 133 26 86 61 73 .324

2007 134 513 108 173 29 102 82 75 .337

2008 128 439 82 160 22 75 90 61 .364

2009 143 488 80 129 18 71 101 89 .264

2010 95 317 47 84 10 46 61 47 .265

Totals 2261 8142 1505 2490 436 1491 1404 1278 .306

Note: Jones played eight games in 1993 and missed 1994 after injuring his left knee

Source: sports.yahoo.com

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wlightnin42
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wlightnin42 02/25/11 - 10:57 am
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Great until the season starts

Great until the season starts and hurts himself again in the first 10 games. Bet on It? Trade him for some good young talent

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