Chipper eyes weekend Classic return
Third baseman doesn't view oblique as long-term problem
TORONTO -- Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones won't be available for Team USA's Pool C finale in the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday, but the third baseman expects to be back in the lineup when the Americans advance to the second round this weekend in Miami.
Jones left the game against Team Venezuela in the sixth inning Sunday due to a mild strain of his right external oblique muscle. He actually suffered the injury during his at-bat in the fourth inning.
"I took a big swing and I felt it then," said Jones. "Each swing, it got progressively worse. I decided it was probably [best] not to be out there."
Jones, a switch-hitter, has suffered many oblique strains in the past, and said the typical recovery time for a mild strain is a matter of days, not weeks.
"Oblique strains are something that happen to switch-hitters quite frequently," said Jones. "I've had this thing dozens of times. I know the severity of it. This is probably something that will be knocked out in three or four days."
Jones felt similar discomfort in his right side while taking batting practice Sept. 10, 2007. Initially, it was thought that he might miss the remainder of the season. But because he took precautionary measures, he was able to return to the lineup just four days later.
"There's no need to really play on Wednesday," Jones added. "I can get four or five days off to hopefully get this better."
Jones attended Team USA's optional workout Monday, but did not participate in batting practice or fielding practice. He'll be limited to conditioning activities for the next few days.
Braves manager Bobby Cox was not concerned that his star player would do anything to jeopardize his availability with Atlanta to start the season.
"Chipper is smart," Cox said. "He's not going to do anything that could make it worse."
U.S. manager Davey Johnson said Sunday night that he doubted Jones would "be available for a week or two." The skipper was happy to learn the good news Monday morning.
"He's a lot better today," Johnson said. "If it was a World Series game, and the game meant a lot more than our seeding for the next [round], he'd play [Wednesday]."
With its 15-6 win over Venezuela, Team USA secured a berth in the second round of the Classic. Jones, who has gone 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in two games, is determined to find his way back into the lineup at Dolphin Stadium this weekend.
"I haven't even contributed to this point, at least offensively," said Jones. "But it's fun to be a part of.
"You couldn't get me away from here with a crowbar. I'm just having too much fun."
Mets star David Wright is expected to start at third base Wednesday for the Americans, who will face the winner of Tuesday's game between Venezuela and either Canada or Italy at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Johnson said he plans to use both No. 3 starter Ted Lilly and No. 4 starter Jeremy Guthrie on the mound Wednesday. Former Blue Jays lefty Lilly will likely get the starting nod at Rogers Centre.