Chipper Jones may turn 40 in April, but he says his last season may be sometime after 2012. He also wants people to stop talking about when he will retire.
Jones will enter his 19th season Major League season, all with the Atlanta Braves, but he strongly indicated that even though 2012 is the last guaranteed year of his contract, he may try to stick around for more.
"I'll be 40 years old in April," Jones said. "There's no doubt there will be times when the body is going to wake up in the morning and say, 'Don't you even think about going on that field today.' I know that. I've got to listen [to my body] so I can play the next day. I'm not going to look a week or month or two months into the future. I'm just going to go one day at a time. If I can go out there, I'm going to go out there.
"As long as I stay healthy and I'm having fun, I'm going to keep it going."
Jones will make $14 million this season. His contract includes a $7 million team option for 2013, which vests automatically at $9 million if he plays at least 123 games in 2012. The option also has escalators that will pay an additional $1 million each if he plays 128, 133, 138 and 140 games in 2012. Jones played in as many as 140 games in 2009.
Although Jones missed a couple of weeks in 2011 due to arthroscopic knee surgery, he still managed to play in 126 games and hit .275 with a .344 on-base percentage. It is not the .304/.402 career mark he may be used to, and his 18 home runs and 70 RBIs were only better than 2010 when he hit 18 homers with 46 RBIs in 96 games, but his 33 double in 2011 were his second most since 2003.
Jones also ranked second among Major League third basemen with his .976 fielding percentage.
All that came after tearing his left ACL in August 2010 and while playing through a torn right meniscus that required surgery in July 2011.
Jones played through the discomfort, but he thought he may have to hang it up after playing through additional pain in his right knee during Brian McCann's celebrity softball game in November.
“I came out that thinking, I can’t play with my knee feeling like this,” he said. “And this was after a month [of rest]. I said I was going to give it till Jan. 1.”
He then managed to step in a hole while hunting in Kansas. Jones said he heard a pop when he twisted his knee in said hole and was so concerned that he flew back to Atlanta for an MRI, but he waited to tell the Braves brass until after in order to quell any potential concern.
Jones said his knee was finally back to normal when he resumed hitting on Jan. 1.
"I've had all my faculties and all my abilities since Jan. 1," Jones said. "It feels good to be able to walk in the cage and be able to work on stuff to get myself in shape without having to worry about how my knee is going to feel."
Jones also reiterated the fact that he feels good enough to not think about the "R-word."
"You're hearing less and less from me during the offseason and I want it that way, because if you're out of sight, you're out of mind," Jones said. "I'm tired of people speculating when my final days are going to be. I don't want to hear it. I'm not ready to talk about it yet."
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