09/26/12 10:25 PM ET
Braves to honor Chipper with ceremony Friday
By Mark Bowman and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
"There was a break in the action [Tuesday] night, and I just kind of looked up into the rafters and just kind of breathed it all in, because I know it's not going to happen too many more times," Jones said. "I just wanted to enjoy it. Just an old man, kind of taking it all in and breathing it all in one last time before I hit the bricks."
The final week should prove to be an eventful and memorable one for Jones, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the champagne celebration that was staged when the Braves clinched a playoff berth with Tuesday night's walk-off win over the Marlins.
Jones' parents will arrive in Atlanta on Thursday to begin gearing up for the festivities that will surround their son's final regular-season series in Atlanta.
"There are a lot of good things happening this week," Jones said. "It's pretty cool to think about."
Before Friday night's series opener against the Mets, the Braves will honor Jones during a special pregame ceremony that is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET. Former Braves manager Bobby Cox, Dale Murphy and Hank Aaron are among the franchise's legendary figures who are scheduled to be in attendance.
The Braves are urging that fans arrive early and plan to be in their seats before 6:55 p.m to enjoy the ceremony. Standing-room only tickets are still being sold for $20 for the game. With an overflow crowd expected, fans are being urged to use MARTA. Parking permits will be necessary for admittance to any of the stadium's parking lots.
"There are a lot of people coming from all over the country this last week to watch me play and say goodbye," Jones said. "I want to be out there. How much I'm out there, where we sit in the standings will have a lot to do with that. But I plan on starting every game."
Jones admits that it might be difficult from a physical perspective for him to stick with his plan to start each of the remaining games of his final homestand. His primary motivation is to satisfy the fans who want to watch him play. At the same time, he remains hopeful that the Braves could erase the four-game deficit that separates them from the first-place Nationals in the National League East race.
The Braves clinched at least a Wild Card on Tuesday. If they experience the miraculous finish that would be necessary to win the division, they would not be subjected to the one-game playoff that the Wild Card entrants will play to determine who advances to the NL Division Series.
"My message to everybody [on Tuesday night] was, 'Hey, have fun with it tonight, but realize we've got more work to do and stay focused on that until we get to the Nationals or they close us out,'" Jones said. "Whichever one it is, we're going to bust our humps to get there."
Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez attended Wednesday night's game to catch a final glimpse of Jones. Former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady did the same on Tuesday night.
A couple of Jones' friends -- country music stars Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean -- are expected to be in attendance for Sunday's game against the Mets.
"I'm excited about the next week-plus, and I remain focused on the team's goals," Jones said. "That's my main focus when I'm out there playing. I want so much for these guys to experience what playoff-type adrenaline and that atmosphere is all about."
Kimbrel joins select company with four K's in ninth
ATLANTA -- Braves closer Craig Kimbrel struck out four batters in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the Marlins. Since 1977, Kimbrel is just the fourth Brave to strike out four batters in one inning.
Kimbrel began the inning by striking out Greg Dobbs. He had Donovan Solano struck out, but catcher Brian McCann wasn't able to block a wild pitch for strike three. Unfazed, Kimbrel struck out John Buck and Gil Velazquez to end the game.
Kimbrel is the third player to strike out four batters in one inning in the last week. Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes did so last Thursday and Angels right-hander Zack Greinke on Tuesday.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen praised Kimbrel after the game.
"He's amazing," Guillen said. "He's having a great year for them and he didn't do anything different today."
Kimbrel has 111 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings this season. With 40 saves, Kimbrel is tied with Cardinals closer Jason Motte for the National League lead.
Jammed thumb keeps Bourn out of action
ATLANTA -- Michael Bourn was out of the Braves' lineup with a jammed left thumb for the third straight game Wednesday. The Braves had been hopeful Bourn would be able to return, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said the center fielder needed another day to heal.
Bourn has not played since Saturday, when he jammed his thumb sliding into second base for a double in the Braves' 8-2 victory over the Phillies.
Gonzalez said Bourn used a thumb guard when he took some swings in the indoor batting cages Wednesday, but he still felt discomfort.
"He's progressing well," Gonzalez said. "I said, 'Let's just take another day. Hopefully today will get you over the hump and we'll get you [back] tomorrow.'"
With the Braves having already clinched a spot in the playoffs, they are being cautious with Bourn -- just as they were with shortstop Andrelton Simmons and his jammed shoulder last week.
Jose Constanza takes Bourn's leadoff spot in the lineup and in center field against Josh Johnson and the Marlins. It marked Constanza's first game in center field this season. He played four games there last season.
Gonzalez said instead of starting Reed Johnson, a right-handed hitter, against Johnson, a right-hander, or sliding right fielder Jason Heyward into center field as they did twice earlier in the season when Bourn needed a day off, he opted for Constanza.
"Heyward, for me, is the best right fielder in the Major Leagues," Gonzalez said. "You put him in center field, he becomes, maybe, average, and now you put Constanza in right field. He is, maybe, below average in right field. So now you kind of weaken yourself at two positions."
Brian McCann, who played his 1,000th career game Wednesday, became the fourth catcher in Braves history to reach that milestone. He joins Joe Torre, Javy Lopez and Del Crandall.
Freddie Freeman's dramatic walk-off, two-run home run to give the Braves a 4-3 victory and clinch a postseason berth on Tuesday night was just the seventh walk-off blast to clinch a playoff spot in Major League history.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.