Tag:Chipper Jones
Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:53 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 5:54 pm

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If Ryan Braun has work to do rebuilding his image, so does Major League Baseball.

If you don't believe that, then listen to what Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said Friday when I asked him if he worries about the integrity of baseball's drug program.

"I do now," Jones said.

That's a problem.

If the fallout of the Braun case is that players don't trust the drug program to be fair, then the program itself loses all the credibility it needs.

Baseball and the players union obviously understand that, and it was no surprise that both the commissioner's office and the union issued statements late Friday afternoon defending the program.

"Our program is not 'fatally flawed,'" MLB said in its statement, countering a charge that Braun made in his press conference earlier Friday in Arizona.

"Our Joint Drug Program stands as strong, as accurate and as reliable as any in sport, both before and after the Braun decision," the union said.

The union couldn't resist taking a shot at management, saying that the arbitrator's decision in Braun's favor was "deserving of respect by both bargaining parties."

But the bigger issue here isn't who liked the decision or who didn't. The bigger issue isn't whether the decision hinged on a "technicality."

It's whether players still trust the system.

Braun is a part of it, because of the respect players around the game have for him. Support for him seemed to be near-universal in the Braves clubhouse on Friday, and the belief seemed to be that at least in this case, the system had holes.

"It's fishy," catcher Brian McCann said. "The guy who [collected the sample] doesn't need to be doing it anymore. It's terrible.

"It should never ever, ever happen."

Jones and other Braves players suggested that they would have been more comfortable if the urine sample had been held by someone who didn't know which player it came from, eliminating any chance that a collector with a grudge against one player could try to take action.

But most of all, they expressed strong support for Braun.

"I believe Ryan, because I know him," Jones said. "I believe him. He's not a guy you look at and say he's on something. I sincerely believe he didn't take anything."

But Jones also understands the uphill battle that Braun now faces to save his reputation.

"Yes, there's always going to be doubt, and that's what's unfair," he said. "Once your name is associated [with steroids], you might as well wear a scarlet letter."

The problem for baseball is that its drug program is now associated with the Ryan Braun case.

And even if this really is "the highest quality drug testing program of any professional sports organization in the world," as MLB claimed in its Friday statement, it's a program that is now very much on the stand, and very much on the defensive.

MLB defended the sample collector, calling him "extremely experienced" and saying he "acted in a professional and appropriate manner."

The players aren't convinced, and that's a problem that baseball needs to address.

No drug program is of any use if it lacks credibility. Right now, the credibility of this program is at stake.

Posted on: September 6, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 6:45 pm

Chipper: Phils Amaro is exec of the year

Chipper Jones' admiration for the Phillies goes beyond the players on the field.

Jones said this week that he considers Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro the executive of the year. He pointed to the Phillies' acquisitions of Cliff Lee and Hunter Pence, and even to last season's moves for Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt.

"Those are executive of the year type moves," Jones said. "When he swings moves like those, he throws a gut punch at everyone in the division."

Jones said this week that he believes the Braves can challenge the Phillies in the National League playoffs. But that shouldn't be taken to mean he has any less respect for the Phils.

"They play more consistently than anyone else -- including us," Jones said.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 8:59 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 11:05 pm

Braves are closer to Phils than it looks

PHILADELPHIA -- When the Braves came here last September, they trailed the Phillies by three games. When they showed up this week, they were 7 1/2 games back.

That's fine, but when the Braves came here last September, they looked like no match for the Phillies, either in the division race or in a potential playoff series. They came here this week looking -- and feeling -- like a team with a chance, if the teams end up meeting in the National League Championship Series.

"I think we match up with these guys better than we ever have," pitcher Tim Hudson said Monday, and you can be sure that even a 9-0 loss to Cliff Lee didn't change his mind.

The Braves acknowledge that the Phillies are the National League's best team. They acknowledge that they'd need to be at their best to win, even in a short series.

"You've got to play a perfect game against the Phillies," Chipper Jones said. "But we know we have a chance."

They also know that it's no guarantee they'll ever see the Phillies in October. Both teams would need to advance through the first round, and as of now the Braves are looking at a tricky first-round series against the Brewers.

But the point isn't that the Braves should be considered the favorite in the NL playoffs. The point is that unlike last year, when the Braves stumbled into the playoffs undermanned, this year a Braves-Phillies NLCS would seem to be worth watching.

The Braves know that they're the only team in baseball that owns wins this year over each of the Phillies' Big 3 starting pitchers -- Roy Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels.

Against the Braves, the Phillies are just 5-5 with Halladay, Lee or Hamels on the mound (including Monday's win). Against everyone else in baseball, they were 52-21 with one of those three starting.

"Look, those three are as good as it gets," Jones said. "We know it. Everyone else knows it. But when you see them as much as we have, we've made some adjustments."

Adjustments or not, the Braves are a different team than the one the Phillies completely outclassed last September. That's true even with Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens on the disabled list, although obviously the Braves' chances improve if either or both returns in time for the playoffs.

Without Hanson and Jurrjens, the Braves would have a postseason rotation of two veterans -- Hudson and Derek Lowe -- and two rookies -- Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor.

"We feel like we'd be in pretty good shape," Braves general manager Frank Wren said.

A year ago, they weren't. Jones was hurt and missed the playoffs. Martin Prado was also hurt, which is why Brooks Conrad had to play (and committed the key errors that helped knock the Braves out of the playoffs against the Giants). Jurrjens was hurt. Billy Wagner was hurt.

"We were a shell of the team we had been in August," Wren said.

They looked like no match at all for the Phillies, no matter what the standings said in mid-September.

They look like an underdog this year, but one with a shot.

"We feel like we're very competitive," Wren said. "I think [the Phillies] are the best team in the NL, but we feel like every time we play them, we can win.

"I don't think there's much separation between the two teams."

I'm not sure I'd go that far. The Phillies clearly look like the best team in the league, and maybe in all of baseball, just as they did entering the playoffs last year.

But last year, I'd have given the Braves no chance. This year, I'd say, they've got a shot.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 9, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2011 9:36 pm

Rolen takes Chipper's place on NL All-Stars

Scott Rolen will replace Chipper Jones on the National League All-Star team.

Jones went on the disabled list Saturday and had surgery on a knee that has bothered him for two months. Rolen had next call on a spot because he finished just behind Jones in player balloting.

Rolen is hitting just .245 for the Reds, but third base is an unusually weak position in the National League this year.

Posted on: July 9, 2011 5:44 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2011 8:46 pm

All-Star Game is losing star power

Try making a list of players who could get you to turn on the television just to watch them play.

Albert Pujols? Justin Verlander? Alex Rodriguez? Felix Hernandez? Jose Reyes? Chipper Jones? Derek Jeter?

You see what I'm getting at?

For all the debate over whether Bruce Bochy snubbed Andrew McCutchen, the real developing problem with Tuesday night's All-Star Game is that, intentionally or not, it's the game itself that is getting snubbed.

All-Star Games need star power. All-Star Games need stars.

The game's greatest stars gathering in the desert, or whatever that annoying TV promo has told us for months.

Or some of the game's greatest stars. Or a few of the game's greatest stars.

I'm not assigning fault here. I'm not suggesting that we've headed back to the 1990s, when too many stars did all they could to avoid the All-Star Game.

Pujols didn't make the team because he had a sub-par first half, got hurt and plays a position filled with other outstanding players. Verlander and Hernandez made the team but are pitching for their own teams on Sunday and thus will be ineligible to pitch on Tuesday.

A-Rod and Chipper both have bad knees and may both end up having surgery.

Ryan Braun, who got the most votes of any player in the National League, has a sore left leg and will miss the All-Star Game, too.

At least Braun's injury allowed Bochy to add the deserving McCutchen to the team, which Bochy did Saturday night.

The reasons for the absences really don't matter. The problem for baseball is that an All-Star Game that has already seen fading interest is now going to be played without so many stars who people would watch.

Mariano Rivera? CC Sabathia? Cole Hamels? Matt Cain?

It's true that Jeter's decision to pull out of the game (citing the calf injury that forced him to the DL for three weeks) allowed Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera to be the rightful American League starter at shortstop. It's true that Cabrera is having a far better season than Jeter, is far more "deserving."

But Jeter just became the 28th player with 3,000 career hits.

Who do you think the average fan is more likely to tune in and watch, Derek Jeter or Asdrubal Cabrera?

There will be great players in Phoenix. But there will be so many great players missing.

Too many.

It's no one's fault. But it is too bad.

Posted on: July 9, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: July 9, 2011 5:34 pm

A-Rod has tear in knee, may have surgery

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez has a slight tear in the meniscus of his right knee, and may have surgery that could keep him out of action for a month.

An MRI exam Friday revealed the tear, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Saturday morning that Rodriguez would likely decide later in the day whether to have surgery now or to play through the injury and have surgery after the season. Rodriguez told reporters after the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Rays that he'll get a second opinion before deciding.

Rodriguez has gone a career-high 85 at-bats since hitting a home run, a stretch that dates back to before he first hurt his knee in June 19 game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"I just don't think he has the drive in his back side to be the power hitter he can be," Girardi said.

Girardi said the ultimate decision on whether or not to have surgery now would be up to Rodriguez, but he also suggested that having surgery now might be best.

"Players have [played through similar injuries], but I'm not sure how productive they can be," Girardi said. "It's unpredictable."

Rodriguez has hit .321 in the 14 games since hurting his knee, but 14 of his 18 hits were singles (the other four were doubles).

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones has been playing with a meniscus tear for nearly two months, but Jones told reporters Friday night in Philadelphia that he may now opt for surgery.

"It's not getting any better," Jones said, according to MLB.com. "The [cortisone] shot didn't do anything for me."

Rodriguez announced Friday that he would skip the All-Star Game. If Jones opts for the surgery, he would miss the All-Star Game, too.

Posted on: September 19, 2010 9:23 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 6:03 pm

3 to watch: The Philly dilemma edition

Three games back of the Phillies in the National League East, the best thing the Braves have going for them is six remaining head-to-head meetings with the Phils, starting with a series that begins Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Two and a half games ahead of the Padres in the NL wild-card race, the biggest thing the Braves have going against them is that they play six of their final 12 games against the league's best team -- the Phillies.

"It is tougher," Chipper Jones said. "But I don't think we'd want it any other way."

One reason, of course, is that the Braves would like to think that they can still win the East. To win the East now, they need for the Phillies to lose. The best way to guarantee that the Phillies lose is to beat them yourself.

The other reason is that the Braves actually have a winning record against the Phillies over the last two years. They went 10-8 last season, and they're 7-5 so far this year.

"The one thing we have done really well the last couple of years is play well against the Phillies," Jones said. "And we're going to have to. They're the best team in the National League, and for some reason, we get sky-high to play them.

"To beat them, we need to play a near-perfect game."

But to make the playoffs, the Braves don't need to finish ahead of the Phillies. They just need to win the wild card -- although that might necessitate beating the Phillies a few times.

"Now we can't split hairs," club president John Schuerholz said. "Now it's about getting to the playoffs."

But still, Schuerholz said he doesn't mind it that half of the Braves' remaining schedule features the Phils (with other six games against the Nationals and Marlins).

"It might be the energy level we need," he said. "They will be energized games."

And they're leading off this week's edition of 3 to watch (which doesn't include the Rangers, Twins or Reds, even though all three could clinch their divisions in the next few days:

1. The Phillies were easily able to adjust their rotation, so that the Braves will face Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, maybe the closest thing we've seen to a true Big Three since the days of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. The Braves would have had a harder time making similar adjustments, and thus ace Tim Hudson won't pitch in this series. The Braves planned to start off with Jair Jurrjens, in Braves at Phillies, Monday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park , but Jurrjens hurt his right knee in a bullpen session last Friday in New York. So 24-year-old Brandon Beachy, who was in Florida with the Braves' instructional league team, will get the start and make his major-league debut. Rookie Mike Minor and young Tommy Hanson are the other two Braves starters this week. The Phillies' Big Three would be lined up again to pitch in the final three regular-season games in Atlanta, although if the Phils have wrapped up the division by then, there's a chance they wouldn't all pitch.

2. Elsewhere on this site , I made what I thought was a reasoned but traditional case for Felix Hernandez as the American League's Cy Young leader. Hernandez could help his own case considerably with a big performance in Mariners at Blue Jays, Thursday afternoon (12:37 ET) at the Rogers Centre . The Jays have hit a major-league high 128 home runs in 69 home games (nearly two a game), and they average more than five runs a game at home. Hernandez hasn't faced the Blue Jays yet this year. Neither has CC Sabathia, who never lined up with any of the Yankees' first five series against the Jays (but figures to pitch in Toronto during the Yankees Sept. 27-29 visit).

3. First, Sabathia has a rematch with Tampa Bay's David Price, and if it's anything like their last game, it might be the 1 to watch this week. The first time around, a week ago in Florida, Sabathia and Price combined for 16 scoreless innings (eight apiece), while allowing just five hits (three of them off Price). They hook up again in Rays at Yankees, Thursday night (7:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium , and by the time it's over, we should have a better idea of who wins the American League East (and who's the AL wild card), and also of who is the leading threat to Hernandez's chance to win the Cy Young.

Posted on: September 17, 2010 7:29 pm

Braves try Chipper meeting at start of big trip

NEW YORK -- Chipper Jones can't hit the Braves into October. He can't get the Braves to the playoffs with his glove.

Can he get them there with his mouth?

With the Braves coming off a series that one opposing scout described as "ugly," and heading into a trip that includes three showdown games with the Phillies, the injured third baseman called a pregame meeting Friday and told his teammates to relax.

"Guys just need to relax and focus at the same time, and play the brand of baseball they're capable of playing, and we'll make it to the playoffs," Jones said later. "I told them, I don't want to hear that we've had injuries. I don't want to hear that. This is the hand we were dealt. I'm not going to be out there with you. Kris Medlen is not going to be out there with you. You still have the club to go out and beat anybody."

The Braves lost two of three games to the Nationals this week, completing a 3-4 homestand that allowed the Phillies to open up a three-game lead in the National League East. The Braves still lead the NL wild-card race by half a game over the Padres.

"It's crunch time," Jones said. "The game is not played any different because we're in September. But for some players and some teams, it's hard to play in September with both hands around your neck, when you're squeezing [the ball] real tight, when you're squeezing the sawdust out of the bat."

Jones hasn't played since Aug. 10, when he hurt his knee making a play in Houston. He had surgery on the knee, and hopes to be healthy by spring training.

The Braves held a 2 1/2-game lead in the division when Jones was hurt. They've gone 18-16 since then, while the Phillies have gone 24-11.
Category: MLB
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