With Chipper Jones playing in his final season – all with the Atlanta Braves – he was presented with a cowboy hat courtesy of Houston Astros legend Craig Biggio, who also spent his whole career with one team, on Monday as a gesture from the ballclub that likely marked the last series he will play in Houston.
The pregame ceremony was the first of many Jones will likely receive during his last season. He has already announced that he will retire after this season.
"It's a nice gesture and it's much appreciated," Jones said. "Houston has always been special to me because it's the one place my parents get to come and there are a ton of Braves fans here. There have been a ton of great games against Houston during my tenure here. So it's awfully nice of them to do that."
Biggio, who played against Jones in five National League Division Series between 1998-2005, noted that Jones should take all the appreciation that comes his way in stride.
"As a player, the home fans love you, but there's a lot of fans that respect you in other ballparks," Biggio said. "They might not like you because of what you've done to them on the baseball field, but they respect you the way you play. To be able to let them say thank you in return is a classy move. It's a good thing. He'll be sad once that last day gets here, but he should enjoy it because he's meant a lot to the game."
Jones also appears to be set to only miss the first four games this season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on March 26. He hit from both sides and took grounders at Minute Maid Park on Monday and convinced the Braves that he is ready to return to the field.
"While I've had some sore days along the way, today I feel great," Jones said. "I did what I had to today to prove I can go out there [Tuesday]."
Jones only took regular batting practice Monday, but he faced Randall Delgado in live BP on Friday and did admit that he was still regaining his timing on hitting fastballs after only getting 25 Spring Training at-bats. He did not, however, believe a minor league rehab assignment would help him regain his timing any faster.
"I would have gone down for a couple at-bats," Jones said. "I just thought it was a waste of time because six at-bats in the Minors isn't going to help me be on 95 [mph pitches] when I get back up here. So might as well throw me back in the fire."
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