LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Chipper Jones awoke Friday morning, he was immediately reminded that he was less than one day removed from having played defense for the first time in nearly seven months.
While his surgically repaired left knee seemed fine, his hamstrings, quads and other muscles he had forgotten he possessed were reminding him that he's about seven weeks away from celebrating his 39th birthday.
"You can't simulate playing a game," Jones said. "You can go out and work out and do everything you think is going to prepare you for a game, and it just doesn't work. ... During the game, you're doing squat after squat after squat."
2010 Spring Training - Atlanta Braves
News & Features
- Cox gets baseball fix managing Future stars
- Graham fine with starting season at Double-A
- Braves return to their old Mississippi digs
- Gattis, Uggla turn on power against Future stars
- Venters slated for elbow checkup with Dr. Andrews
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Fortunately, Jones arrived at the stadium Friday without any reason to be concerned about his left knee, which was surgically repaired in August after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
"The knee is fine," Jones said. "I didn't have any more or less fluid in my knee than I have any other morning."
With his knee fine and the rest of his body simply producing expected soreness, Jones was 1-for-4 as the designated hitter in Friday's loss to the Blue Jays. His sharp fourth-inning single put him in position to score on a David Ross two-run single.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Jones might serve as the DH again Saturday and then return to play defense again Sunday. But Gonzalez left open the possibility that Jones could play third base as soon as Saturday.
Cunningham makes surprise start for Braves
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Eric Hinske approached Todd Cunningham after Friday morning's batting practice and told him to get ready to start in left field against the Blue Jays, the young outfielder wondered if it was part of the hazing process.
Less than a full year removed from a successful career at Alabama's Jacksonville State University, Cunningham had just arrived for the start of his first Minor League Spring Training three days ago. His assumption was that he was going to spend Friday afternoon serving as an extra for the Braves' split-squad team playing the Blue Jays at Disney.
"I didn't know," Cunningham said. "You're expecting a little bit of hazing and for somebody to mess with you somewhere. I guess you never know. You just kind of go with it and smile and nod and then find out the truth later."
Cunningham quickly learned that this wasn't a joke. With Hinske battling a sore left calf muscle, the Braves threw the 21-year-old outfielder in their starting lineup and then watched him go hitless in three at-bats.
"You wish they would have had more time to get ready," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said in reference to the fact that Cunningham and many of the club's other top prospects only recently arrived in Minor League camp Tuesday.
Cunninghman, who was selected in the second round of last summer's First-Year Player Draft, hit .260 in 231 at-bats at Class A Rome last year.
Matt Lipka, an 18-year-old shortstop taken with last summer's first-round selection, was among the extras sent to the split-squad game against the Nationals in Viera, Fla. Highly regarded 19-year-old shortstop Edward Salcedo, who was given a $1.6 million signing bonus around this time last year, was an extra for the game at Disney. Neither of the shortstops made an appearance.
Fortunate Minor still scuffling with inconsistency
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Mike Minor proved perfect when he and Brandon Beachy began their battle for the fifth spot in the Braves' rotation. When the competition resumed Friday, the highly regarded left-hander could be better described as fortunate.
Struggling with his changeup and curveball, Minor was fortunate to allow just one run while allowing five hits and issuing two walks in a split-squad game against the Blue Jays at Disney. The 23-year-old left-hander allowed three first-inning singles and escaped the second inning unscathed when Yunel Escobar grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
"The changeup and curve both felt good," Minor said. "I just couldn't throw the changeup for strikes. It had good depth and break from my end. They just weren't swinging at it."
Doing his part to make sure this battle remains interesting, Beachy spent the early portion of Friday afternoon limiting the Nationals to one hit over three scoreless innings. The 24-year-old right-hander recorded four strikeouts and found the strike zone with 32 of his 51 pitches.
Beachy's outing was encouraging from the standpoint that he allowed two runs in his debut Sunday. Minor's outing simply reminded him and the Braves that he has struggled the past two years to find consistency with his offspeed pitches, namely his changeup.
"I just need to focus on throwing it for strikes when I need to," said Minor, who was selected with the seventh overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Minor's command wasn't as sharp as it was Sunday, when he tossed two perfect innings against the Astros.
"I felt OK," Minor said. "I just couldn't throw it where I wanted to today."
Because he was managing the split-squad team at Disney, Gonzalez didn't see Craig Kimbrel allow the Nationals two earned runs and three hits in just one inning Friday. A top closer candidate, Kimbrel has allowed four earned runs and six hits in 2 1/3 innings over three appearances this spring. ... Gonzalez said Peter Moylan just "left a couple pitches up" while allowing the Blue Jays two runs and four hits in Friday's ninth inning. ... Jason Heyward's sore left groin reacted well when he took some light swings Friday. But the 21-year-old right fielder said he will likely wait until Sunday before returning to the lineup. ... Top pitching prospect Julio Teheran, who battled back spasms earlier this week, completed a live batting-practice session without any problem Friday. The Braves are hoping to get him in a game soon.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.