04/09/12 8:15 PM ET
As expected, Chipper activated from DL
Third baseman swung from both sides, fielded grounders
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
While taking swings from both sides of the plate and fielding grounders at Minute Maid Park on Monday afternoon, Jones accomplished his goal to persuade the Braves to activate him from the disabled list before Friday's home opener against the Brewers.
Jones has made steady progress since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on March 26 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
"While I've had some sore days along the way, today I feel great," Jones said. "I did what I had to today to prove I can go out there [Tuesday]." Given that Jones recorded just 25 at-bats in the exhibition season, the Braves initially thought Jones would play at least one Minor League rehab game before returning. The only live pitching he has faced since March 20 came courtesy of a short batting practice session against Randall Delgado on Friday.
Jones' activity on Monday was limited to regular batting practice and the fielding of some ground balls.
"He feels like he doesn't need to go out and have a rehab assignment," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He feels like he's fine. He's a guy with [10,166] plate appearances, you've got to take his word for it."
Jones played two Minor League rehab games after he underwent the same surgery on his right knee last year, then pulled his right quadriceps muscle in his first game back in the Atlanta lineup. He was activated from the disabled list 16 days after undergoing that surgical procedure.
After taking swings against Delgado on Friday, Jones said that he was still trying to regain his timing to hit fastballs. While a rehab assignment would allow him to see live pitching, he does not believe it would be any more beneficial than regaining his timing while facing big league pitching.
"I would have gone down for a couple at-bats," Jones said. "I just thought it was a waste of time because six at-bats in the Minors isn't going to help me be on 95 [mph pitches] when I get back up here. So might as well throw me back in the fire."
Heyward not in lineup; Francisco, Diaz start
HOUSTON -- Jason Heyward found himself as the odd man out on Monday night, when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez decided that he wanted another opportunity to see Juan Francisco play before Chipper Jones is activated from the disabled list.
"I want to have a chance to see him play against lefties just in case I have to [play him against lefties in the future]," Gonzalez said. "And [Matt Diaz] is swinging it good right now against left-handed pitching."
With the Astros starting left-hander J.A. Happ on Monday, Gonzalez wanted Diaz's bat in the lineup. The veteran outfielder entered the game with eight hits, including two doubles and a homer, in 15 career at-bats against Happ.
Like Heyward, Francisco had never previously faced Happ. But when Jones returns from the disabled list, Francisco's role will become limited.
While most of Francisco's pinch-hit at-bats will come against right-handers, Gonzalez wanted to gain a better idea of how well the left-handed-hitting third baseman would fare against lefties if pressed into a more regular role.
Biggio presents Chipper with cowboy hat
HOUSTON -- Chipper Jones and Craig Biggio share the distinction of playing their entire careers with one organization. They also share the many great memories that were developed as the Braves and Astros met five times in the National League Division Series between 1998-2005.
These two shared another nice moment together on Monday night, when Biggio presented Jones with a cowboy hat during a pregame ceremony. This stands as the first of many Jones will likely receive as he visits Major League cities for the last time. He has already announced he will retire at the end of this year.
"It's a nice gesture and it's much appreciated," Jones said. "Houston has always been special to me because it's the one place my parents get to come and there are a ton of Braves fans here. There have been a ton of great games against Houston during my tenure here. So it's awfully nice of them to do that."
Having already experienced his own farewell tour in 2007, Biggio suggests Jones soak in all of the appreciation he receives.
"As a player, the home fans love you, but there's a lot of fans that respect you in other ballparks," Biggio said. "They might not like you because of what you've done to them on the baseball field, but they respect you the way you play. To be able to let them say thank you in return is a classy move. It's a good thing. He'll be sad once that last day gets here, but he should enjoy it because he's meant a lot to the game."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.