Chipper Jones to DL: What This Means as Atlanta Braves Open Season

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIMarch 24, 2012

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - MARCH 18:  Infielder Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves bats against the Baltimore Orioles during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on March 18, 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Atlanta Braves fans just got some news that is not all that pleasing--Chipper Jones will have arthroscopic surgery on Monday and miss the start of the regular season.

While the fact that Jones is injured is not that surprising to fans, as we've seen that happen many times over the last few years, it's the fact that he'll start out the season on the disabled list in what is his final season as a pro ballplayer.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution David O'Brien, the injury happened about an hour before Jones' Thursday news conference in which he announced he would retire at the end of this season.

In this, his 19th season with the Braves, Jones hopes to return for the Braves home opener against the Brewers on April 13.

The injury is to the meniscus in his left knee and will force him to miss the Braves first two road series against the Mets and the Astros.

So, what does this mean for the Braves as they open the season?

For starters, Martin Prado will begin the season as the starting third baseman with Eric Hinske or Matt Diaz starting in left field, although don't be surprised if Jose Constanza or Jordan Parraz get to start the year in Atlanta and earn some starts.

This could also open the opportunity for both Tyler Pastornicky and Andrelton Simmons to start the year in Atlanta, regardless of who wins the starting job at shortstop out of spring training.

While most think the injury does hurt the Braves, it's better his time on the DL happens at the beginning of the year against the Mets and Astros, rather than later in the year.

Even if he's not ready by the home opener, there's not too much to be concerned about with the Brewers and Mets opening the Braves home slate in the next two series.

Without Jones, the Braves will still have a good opportunity to start the season off with a good record. It will be their two road series next against the Diamondbacks and Dodgers where it will be important for Jones to be back in the lineup.

All-in-all, I don't believe Jones starting the year on the disabled list is going to be that big of a deal.

The team has gotten used to that happening over the last few years and has made due with replacements while he was out with injury.

If anything, this give manager Fredi Gonzalez an opportunity to see what having Prado start at third base does for a period of time, while having another player in the outfield.

Depending on the outcome, it could go a long way in determining if the Braves go after any big name free agents after this season.

Should these players do well, maybe the Braves won't make as big of a splash in the free-agent market as we believe they'll make.

Regardless, this isn't what Braves fans wanted to see happening to Jones at the start of his final season.