03/13/12 1:03 PM ET
Chipper: 'Retirement' comments made in jest
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Jones admits saying, "I don't know if I can make it through this year," while talking to two national reporters after playing eight innings during Monday afternoon's loss to the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.
But as he addressed the issue via a phone interview on Tuesday morning, Jones said the tone of his message was misunderstood.
"Unfortunately, I said it around two guys who don't know me very well, and they didn't realize I was kidding around," Jones said. "One of the guys asked, 'You think you can make it through the season with your knees?' I said, 'Make it through the season, I don't know if I can make it through tomorrow.' Obviously, I'm joking. That's an obvious joke. Really, I just came off the field after playing eight innings. I've had eight at-bats all spring. I was kidding around.
"It was tongue in cheek. I was kidding. I just got done playing eight innings with three at-bats. I was a little tired. I wasn't by any means suggesting I couldn't make it through the season. If I didn't think that I could, I wouldn't be out there."
One month shy of his 40th birthday and entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, Jones could be in the midst of the final season of his storied career. But even after battling soreness in his knees and legs during the early weeks of Spring Training, the Braves third baseman is not ready to put a definitive timetable on the remainder of his career.
"If there was any question about whether I could make it through the season or not, I would not have come back [to play this year]," Jones said. "I will not only make it through tomorrow, I will make it through this season with no problem."
Jones blew out the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late in the 2010 season and had a torn meniscus repaired via arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in July. Still, he played 126 games last year and returned to Spring Training this year weighing seven pounds less than he had one year earlier.
"I think it is a disservice to Chipper Jones to suggest that after wearing a Braves uniform for 22 years, he is going to abandon his teammates in the middle of a season," B.B. Abbott, Jones' agent, said. "Anybody who knows anything about him knows he is not like that."
While some have suggested Jones has struggled over the past couple of weeks, he believes he is where he needs to be with Opening Day still a little more than three weeks away.
Jones has gone hitless while drawing three walks during the early portion of the Grapefruit League season. After missing five straight days to deal with some soreness in his legs, he played four consecutive days before resting on Tuesday.
"I'm not struggling," Jones said. "I've played four days in a row. How am I struggling? I can't remember the last time I played four days in a row in Spring Training. I'm struggling? I'm playing fine.
"I'm a little behind now with bat speed. But I barreled a couple balls [Monday], and I'm catching up. Once I get locked in on [95-mph fastballs], everything else will fall in place. Defensively, I'm fine. I am where I need to be at the point in Spring Training."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.