Chipper out with slight tear in leg muscle
Third baseman hopes he will be able to return for Cubs series
ATLANTA -- As he continues to baffle opposing pitchers, Chipper Jones has at least increased wonder about the potential of him hitting .400 this season. But the Braves third baseman's march toward this historical mark will be delayed for at least a few days because of a slight tear in his right quadriceps muscle.
Jones suffered the injury during Saturday night's 6-2 loss to the Phillies, and he reported to Turner Field on Sunday morning feeling some definite discomfort. Now both he and the Braves can only wait and hope that this ailment only forces him to miss a couple of games during the upcoming series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"If I only have to miss a couple of games in Chicago," Jones said, "I'll consider myself to be pretty lucky."
Jones, who leads the Majors with a .420 batting average, aggravated the quad muscle after hitting a grounder during Saturday's seventh inning. When he took a few steps out of the batter's box, Jones felt the discomfort and then showed it as he made his way down the first-base line.
When the game concluded, Braves physician Dr. Marvin Royster told Jones that he had a slight tear in his quadriceps muscle. Immediately, the third baseman thought he was destined for the disabled list. But Royster then told him that he might be able to play again on Thursday or Friday.
"I was worried about [the DL] when he said 'tear,'" Jones said. "It's pretty sore this morning. We'll see when it gets better."
When the Braves' medical staff suggested using a needle to draw blood out of the affected region on Saturday, Jones opted instead to pressure wrap the area with the hope to get the same results.
Using the term "tear" provides some reason for worry. But in essence, Jones has a hamstring strain that he's hoping doesn't prove to be as significant as the one that forced Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez to the disabled list earlier this season.
Jones, who didn't miss any time when he was bothered by this same right quad during the first two weeks of the season, played the remainder of Saturday's game with discomfort.
"I felt like I was dragging a leg," Jones said. "It was like a blown tire."
If Jones is forced to miss an extended period, this would be a damaging blow to the Braves' playoff hopes. Along with his .420 batting average, the 36-year-old third baseman also leads the Majors with a .504 on-base percentage, a 1.184 OPS and 92 hits.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Major Leaguers to be hitting at least .400 through their teams' first 63 games were Rockies outfielder Larry Walker (.416) and Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn (.402), who both did this in 1997.
Sunday is the 64th game of the season for the Braves. The last player to be hitting .400 through this point of the season was Blue Jays shortstop Tony Fernandez (.401) in 1999.
"This late in the season, you'll see somebody hovering around .400 or be just a touch above .400," Braves left-hander Tom Glavine said. "But he's 20-something points above .400. He's having the kind of year you have your senior year in high school."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.