04/06/12 4:41 PM ET
Chipper encouraged after facing live pitching
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Jones said he felt "real good" as he took swings against live pitching for the first time since undergoing surgery on March 26 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The veteran third baseman, who will turn 40 on April 24, remains confident he will be activated from the disabled list before the April 13 home opener against the Brewers.
In fact, Jones believes he "will be ready physically" by Tuesday, when he becomes eligible to be activated from the disabled list. But he understands he may need a few additional days to begin timing fastballs again.
Jones had compiled just 25 at-bats during the exhibition season before injuring his knee on March 22, less than two hours before making his already-planned announcement that he will retire at the conclusion of this season.
The Braves seem to be in favor of having Jones play at least one Minor League rehab game before being activated. There is a chance he could play for Class A Rome when it hosts Charleston in its home opener on Thursday. Veteran pitcher Tim Hudson is already expected to start that game as part of his own rehab assignment.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he has not decided whether Tommy Hanson will return to pitch on normal rest on Tuesday or with an extra day of rest on Wednesday. Randall Delgado will be slated to start one of those two games. Hanson threw just 83 pitches while allowing one run in five-plus innings during Thursday's Opening Day loss to the Mets.
Gonzalez said he is leaning toward starting Juan Francisco at third base for Saturday and Sunday's games against the Mets. The Braves will face right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on Saturday and southpaw Jon Niese on Sunday. The left-handed-hitting Francisco has batted .301 with an .847 OPS in 143 big league at-bats against right-handed pitchers and .192 in just 26 at-bats against left-handed pitchers.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.