The Atlanta Braves have struggled to score runs this season without Chipper Jones in the lineup and it appears the injured 40-year-old third baseman is nearing a return to the diamond. Jones has been out for about three weeks with a badly bruised ankle and even underwent surgery to remove blood that had built up in the area due to the swelling.
Now that we have delightful picture in your head, let's talk about the good news: Chipper is hoping to play by this weekend at Turner Field against the Blue Jays. What he isn't hoping to do is need a Minor League rehab assignment to play a game or two, although that appears to be up in the air at this point.
Here is the latest from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Manager Fredi Gonzalez would prefer at least a game or two of rehab for Jones, who took batting practice Tuesday for the first time since having May 26 surgery to drain a nasty hematoma on his lower left leg.
"I'm haggling with management right now as to whether I take a rehab assignment of not," said Jones, who would like to play as soon as Friday against Toronto, the first day he's eligible to come off the DL. "But the next couple of days will determine that."
Gonzalez said a decision might be a few days away. He smiled and said, "This is going to be the Gonzalez-Jones soap opera. The last answer I got from him was ... he didn't give me an answer."
It would be nice to avoid the risk of having Jones play on what are typically poorly kept minor league fields for a night or two given his knee concerns, but some at-bats against live pitching would probably do him some good. It appears that the health of Jones' ankle and knee will be the determining factor in all of this; I don't think Fredi Gonzalez has earned the right to tell Chipper what he can or cannot do when it comes to his health at this point.
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