Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones is considering retirement, according to reports. The 39-year-old told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Tomorrow might be my last day. I don’t know. I don’t really focus on it that much. The body is starting to tell me every morning when I wake up that it’s getting close. I’m signed through the end of this year. If I play in a certain amount of games, I got an option for next year. I don’t know what next year entails. I don’t know if I can make it through this year.
Jones is currently entering the last year of a contract that guarantees him $14 million this season, and a 2013 team option.
Over the past few seasons, the future Hall of Famer has really slowed down. The days when he was one of the NL's top players, as part of the 1990s Braves teams that established a dynasty through winning 14 NL East titles, are long behind him.
Injuries have been a big concern, with work done on both knees over the past two years to keep him playing.
Despite all of that, he still had a respectable 2011, hitting .275 and driving in 70 runs. Those numbers, however, are well below his averages of .304 and 106 RBI—a sign that perhaps he is no longer fit to play the game at the level he once had.
With the Braves competing in one of the toughest divisions in the majors, it will surely be a long and tedious season. The Phillies, Marlins and Nationals are all looking better on paper than they did a year ago. Odds are Atlanta’s playoff fate could be decided on the last day of the season, just like last October.
If Jones is feeling the exhaustion now, in the warmth and stress-free environment of Lake Buena Vista, FL, then there is probably little chance he would be at his best come Game 162 of the regular season.
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