Major Leagues: Chipper gets standing ovation
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chipper Jones made a brand new stop on his farewell tour.
The Atlanta Braves’ third baseman, who is retiring after the season, singled as a pinch hitter in the All-Star Game in his first-ever appearance at Kauffman Stadium.
In a quirk of interleague scheduling, the Braves have never played in Kansas City.
The 40-year-old Jones received a standing ovation from the fans when he came to the plate in the sixth inning and got another appreciative roar after singling off Chris Sales.
“It was kind of hard to see 97 (mph) coming out of Sales’ hand,” Jones said. “You’re not going to get a base hit if you don’t swing the bat.”
Before his grounder made it past second baseman Ian Kinsler and into the outfield, Jones was trying to leg out a hit.
“Yeah, I was thinking beat it out all the way,” Jones said. “At 40 years old, legging out a hit in the All-Star Game. That’s exactly how I scripted it.”
NL manager Tony La Russa suggested that Jones, an eight-time All-Star, address the team before the game. Jones said during the media day before the home run derby that he wasn’t big on speeches.
But he took La Russa up on the offer.
“We’ve won two. Win three, and that’s a winning streak,” Jones told the team. “We have an opportunity to do that tonight. And I am not going out losing my last one. So, you with me?”
It certainly appeared that they were.
JONES DAY: The Braves will honor Chipper Jones before the start of his final home regular-season series.
The Braves on Monday announced plans to honor Jones in a pregame ceremony Sept. 28 before they open a series against the New York Mets. Jones, who has spent his entire career in Atlanta, plans to retire after the season.
The 40-year-old is hitting .318 with six homers and 33 RBIs. He will be a reserve in Tuesday night’s All-Star game in Kansas City.
Jones was the NL MVP in 1999 and batting champion in 2008, and is considered a strong Hall of Fame candidate.
Team president John Schuerholz says the Braves will use the ceremony to show Jones “how much he has meant to us.”
INSTANT ARTIFACTS: Three items were sent to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.: the bat used by Pablo Sandoval to hit the first bases-clearing triple in All-Star Game history, Chipper’s cap and the bat he used in his final All-Star Game appearance.
SHEETS UNCOVERED: Ben Sheets says he’s ready to help the Braves.
The four-time All-Star gave up three runs in 52/3 innings earlier this week during his second start with the Double-A Mississippi Braves. The big-league Braves are looking for help on their pitching staff after an injury-riddled and inconsistent first half of the season, and Sheets said he’s ready to get the call.
“If that’s what happens, I’ll be ready to go,” Sheets said. “It’s more mental than anything, and my mind’s right. I feel like I can conquer any challenge in front of me.”
The 33-year-old right-hander threw 89 pitches, including 58 strikes, in the Southern League game against Birmingham. Only two runs were earned.
He allowed seven hits — all singles. His fastball was around 90-91 mph.
“I felt like I belonged out there (in the sixth inning) and I could have stayed out there and continued to compete,” Sheets said. “I don’t think people realize how far along I am.”
DISABLED: Braves rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons will miss at least a month with a broken right little finger.
Simmons hurt his finger on a head-first slide in Sunday’s game at Philadelphia.
The Braves on Monday said Simmons’ hand will be in a cast for four weeks. His status will be updated after the cast is removed.
The injury was confirmed when Simmons was examined by team physician Gary Lourie. Simmons was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Simmons, 22, began the year in the minor leagues. Another rookie, Tyler Pastornicky, opened the season as the starting shortstop and may be recalled to replace Simmons.
The Braves return from the All-Star break to open a home series against the Mets on Friday night. Atlanta is four games behind first-place Washington in the NL East.
Simmons was called up on June 1 and is hitting .294 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 33 games. He was named the NL rookie of the month for June.