NEW YORK -- Chipper Jones sat in front of the New York media on Friday afternoon to field questions surrounding his final trip to Citi Field, and it will be his final trip -- the Mets made sure to confirm that he wasn't second guessing his planned retirement come season's end.
Jones is almost -- if not just -- as much a part of Mets history as any player, coach or manager actually affiliated with the team. He hit his first home run at Shea Stadium, and was on the field for Mike Piazza's emotional home run in the first post-9/11 game in New York City. Robin Ventura's famous Grand Slam Single in the 1999 National League Championship Series came against Chipper and the Braves.
"For me, every Major League ballpark is somewhat of a cathedral, but that one holds a special place for me," Jones said about Shea Stadium. "Playing on this stage is the most fun of anywhere you can play, it doesn't matter whether it's Shea Stadium or Yankee Stadium. It holds a special place.
"I've played in some epic games in that ballpark ... and I'm enough of a man to take a step back and realize that when the other team does something special, that it affects me as well. A lot of the memories I have of Shea Stadium aren't necessarily good ones, but I respect the fact that some pretty amazing players did some pretty amazing things to our ballclub over the years."
So, in honor of his favorite ballpark, Jones named his son -- who is now eight years old -- Shea.
"His room has been decorated in orange and blue from the very get-go," Jones said. "He has murals on the wall of baseball players and Shea Stadium. I've given him replicas of Shea Stadium throughout the years, he has two stadium seats in his closet bolted to the floor so he can sit in them and get dressed every morning for school. Whenever a stadium flashes up on TV, he goes, 'Is that my stadium, Dad?'"
There's a mutual respect between the Mets' fan base and Jones -- his body of work is difficult to ignore. He is labeled as the "Met killer" -- and rightly so, he was a .314 hitter against the Mets with 49 home runs entering Friday -- but his relationship with the Mets' faithful is unique. Even Friday, 19 years after that first home run, fans at Citi Field still taunted him by cheering his name -- "Laaaaaary," not Chipper.
The funny part is, he's going to miss it.
Tejada to get a handful of off-days in September
NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins said Friday that he plans to give shortstop Ruben Tejada a handful of off-days throughout the final month of the season, the first of which came Friday against Atlanta.
Collins said his main concern is fatigue -- since coming off the disabled list on June 24, Tejada has missed just one game in its entirety (Sunday against Miami). And signs of it may be showing. Tejada is hitting just .175 (7-for-40) with 10 strikeouts in his past 11 games, including a four-strikeout game on Wednesday against St. Louis.
"He's played enough that he's in shape, but I think he hasn't been in a situation where he's been an everyday guy for the entire season going into that last month," Collins said. "The month of September is probably the biggest challenge for all young players because they've never played that six months where you're playing every day.
"It's one thing to get called up and play once a week or twice a week, it's another thing to still grind it out over the six months."
Even with scheduled off-days, Tejada will still set a new high for Major League games played in a single season -- he appeared in 96 games in 2011 and is just five shy of that mark this season.
Collins said the plan moving forward will be to schedule Tejada's off-days in tandem with days the team does not play, such as to give him multiple days of rest at a time. New York's two remaining off-days are scheduled for Sept. 13 and 20.
As for building up his endurance for the future, Tejada plans to stay in New York after the season to strengthen his right quadriceps, which was the cause of his six-week DL stint earlier this season. Collins admitted that the best approach toward doing so is to play every day, but said at this point in the season, ensuring Tejada will be ready for 2013 takes precedence.
"The only way to do it is to play him," Collins said, "but we've got to make sure that the fatigue doesn't cause an injury."
Collins wants Mets to finish strong at home
NEW YORK -- Including Friday night's series opener against Atlanta, 16 of New York's remaining 25 games this season will be played at Citi Field, and Mets manager Terry Collins knows his team needs to finish strong at home.
"We've got to make this a place where we're dangerous," Collins said. "I thought, with the reconfiguration of the ballpark, this place plays very fair now, and we haven't used it to our advantage, that's for sure lately."
While the records are relatively close -- New York is 30-35 at Citi Field and 35-37 on the road -- the stats certainly aren't. Entering Friday night's game, New York had scored exactly 100 more runs on the road (336) than at home (236), and had 137 more hits away from Citi (650-517).
"It's a good place to pitch. We've pitched well here, we have not hit well here," Collins said. "We've got to get the offense going."
Torres exits with left knee bruise after nice grab
NEW YORK -- Mets center fielder Andres Torres left Friday's game against the Braves in the second inning with a left knee bruise he sustained while making a catch in right-center field. Torres caught Martin Prado's line drive and then slid to the ground, but he left the game after showing obvious signs of discomfort.
Torres, who was listed as day to day, was replaced by Jordany Valdespin.
Collins confirmed on Friday that Matt Harvey will make two more starts before the Mets shut him down for the season. Harvey will pitch on Wednesday against Washington, and if his final start comes on regular rest -- in line with New York's six-man rotation -- he will start against Philadelphia on Sept. 19.
Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.