09/17/12 7:40 PM ET
Wild Card-leading Braves not giving up on NL East
By Tom Green / MLB.com
"We certainly haven't given up on the division as of yet," Chipper Jones said. "It's going to be difficult, but I've always told these guys all along, 'Let's set our sights high and let the Wild Card be the byproduct of maybe us coming up just short in the division.'
"We want to go out and put as much pressure on the Nationals as we can."
After finishing a three-game sweep of the Nats, the Braves have done just that. Despite closing in on the division crown, the Braves are still trying to live in the moment, approaching the schedule one day at a time.
That schedule, which includes six games against the Marlins and three each against the Phillies, Mets and Pirates, comes off as less daunting than that of the Nats, whose remaining 16 games include six against the Phillies, four against the Brewers and three each against the Dodgers and Cardinals.
With Washington idle Monday, the Braves had an opportunity to gain another half-game in the standings in their opener at Marlins Park.
"We're mathematically in it, so why would we give up on it?" center fielder Michael Bourn said. "You've always got to fight until they say, 'No, you can't go no more.' [The Nats] don't have an easy schedule closing out, and we don't have one either. We're going to take it one game at a time and see where we end up at the end of the year."
Chipper reflects on 'epic battles' in Miami
MIAMI -- Few stops on Chipper Jones' farewell tour have meant as much to him as the ones in National League East cities.
Earlier this month, Jones bid a final farewell to Citi Field, and in August, he made his last regular-season trip to Nationals Park. On Monday, Jones kicked off his final trip to Miami to face the Marlins.
"It's starting to hit home now," Jones said. "I know I've had a lot of last trips into cities this year, but the ones in the [NL] East are that much more special because of the history with the Mets, the Marlins, the Nationals and the Phillies. ... It's starting to get to me a bit."
Jones' history with the Marlins extends back to 1993, when he made his Major League debut and the Marlins started their inaugural season as an expansion franchise. Since then, the two sides have had their share of encounters -- 242 games, the most by any player against the Marlins.
Jones has hit .299 with 40 home runs and 165 RBIs in those games. The 40 homers are the most all-time against the Marlins. He also ranks first in RBIs, runs scored (151), doubles (47) and hits (256) against them. He needs to drive in three more runs against Miami to tie Dale Murphy's Atlanta record for most career RBIs against one opponent.
Of the 40 round-trippers, Jones said the one that stands out to him the most came on June 5, 2008, when he launched the 400th of his career off Marlins righty Ricky Nolasco at Turner Field. His fondest memory against the Marlins in South Florida, however, was in 1997 during the National League Championship Series, when Jones recalls playing in front of "75,000-80,000" fans at Sun Life Stadium -- then known as Pro Player Stadium.
Those attendance figures were actually between 51,982 and 54,890 -- numbers still higher than the capacity of every big league park outside of Dodger Stadium.
"We had some epic battles down here," Jones said. "The years that the Marlins ended up winning the World Series, those were some pretty good teams. We had some great battles with them along the way.
"The '97 playoffs, I'll never forget that. Seeing [Sun Life Stadium] packed for a baseball game ... that's a memory. You don't get to play in front of that many people at a sporting event."
McCann remains out with knee discomfort
MIAMI -- Catcher Brian McCann remained out of the Braves' lineup Monday due to discomfort in his right knee.
McCann is dealing with tendinitis in his right hamstring that is affecting him where the hamstring connects to the knee. The injury first popped up last week in Milwaukee, and McCann played through the pain at first, but it eventually forced him out of Saturday's game against the Nationals.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said McCann was available to pinch-hit Sunday, and that the catcher was "doing OK" on Monday and was once again available to pinch-hit.
"It doesn't hurt him to hit," Gonzalez said. "He took some BP, took some soft toss in the cage [Sunday], he felt great. It's when he moves in with his right leg, when it moves in, that's when he feels it. He could play first, he could play third, he could play both corners of the outfield. That's what he told me. I said, 'I guess we'll use you as a pinch-hitter.'"
While McCann was out of the lineup for the series opener against the Marlins, Gonzalez remained hopeful the backstop would be available to play Tuesday.
Jones was given the day off on Monday after the Braves played Sunday night. Gonzalez said the retiring third baseman will be in the lineup for the final two games of the series at Marlins Park.
With Jones out of the lineup, Martin Prado was at third with Jeff Baker making his first start of the season in left field. Baker batted eighth, while a shift in the order had Andrelton Simmons batting second for just the second time this season.
"I'd like to take a look at [Baker] a little bit," Gonzalez said. "I didn't want to put Baker in the two-hole. I figured Simmons has a little bit of speed."
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.