Third baseman Chipper Jones didn't want to get out to the West Coast and find out that he needs arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn right meniscus in his right knee. So he decided to start Tuesday against Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.
"I would rather go out and test it against a lefty today," he said, "as opposed to going on the road out to the West Coast and finding out it's not OK and fly all the way back and get surgery. I'd rather get it out of the way today.
"I don't have near the pain that I did two days ago. As long as I can go out there and field groundballs, move laterally, hit from both sides of the plate, give it a whirl. That's why we took the shots."
Jones got two cortisone shots Sunday, both in the same place, the inside of his right knee. Team physician Dr. Joe Chandler thinks the half-inch tear in Jones' meniscus could possibly heal by itself, given time.
Right fielder Jason Heyward was back in the starting lineup, too, after also getting two cortisone shots. His were administered Thursday, one in the back of his shoulder, in the cuff, and one in the joint in the front of the shoulder. This is his non-throwing arm, but obviously any weakness there impacts his hitting, which has not been outstanding.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez is suffering his own symptoms: closer withdrawal.
"Starter-Venters-Kimbrel. Starter-Venters-Kimbrel. Starter-the occasional-O'Flaherty-Venters-Kimbrel," he jokes. "We're going to have to be a little more creative."
But seriously, he and pitching coach Roger McDowell have been talking about not overusing left-hander Jonny Venters as the setup man and right-hander Craig Kimbrel as the closer, with left-hander Eric O'Flaherty coming in before them, if necessary.
"We're gonna kill 'em," Gonzalez quipped about Venters and Kimbrel. "At the pace they're going, they both may have 100 appearances."
Gonzalez went to left-hander George Sherrill and right-hander Scott Proctor in the eighth in Tuesday's 3-1, 11-inning win. But the Braves were down 1-0 at the time. Venters did indeed make an appearance in the ninth, followed by O'Flaherty and right-hander Cory Gearrin, who got the win.
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