The Union Recorder

Local Sports

February 18, 2013

Chipper back in camp, but he's not coming back

(Continued)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. —

He still fits right in.

When Jason Heyward and Justin Upton walked into the batting cages, Jones shouted, "All right, here come the big dogs!" A short time later, the 40-year-old plopped down on a bench next to Heyward, chatting up the outfielder who is nearly two decades his junior.

"They've got to schedule a day to retire your jersey," Heyward said, breaking into a big smile. "It better not be one of those getaway night games."

"Don't worry," Jones said. "We're gonna keep it short and sweet."

While the retired third baseman has no desire to get into full-time coaching at this point, he vowed to remain a handy resource should anyone on the Braves need him. He's always welcome to come around, manager Fredi Gonzalez said, mindful of the leadership role Jones had as a player.

"I still want these guys to succeed," Jones said. "If I can give them a little nugget here and there to help them, I'm going to do it."

But, tellingly, he now refers to the Braves as "they" instead of "we."

He really is retired, and it's going to stay that way. He had not thrown a ball until he tossed out the ceremonial first pitch for a game at Stetson University on Saturday. While he carried around a fungo bat during Sunday's workout, he hasn't actually taken a swing since his final game, a playoff loss to the Cardinals.

"I'm sure these guys are going to egg me on at some point," Jones said. "But I think my back would break if I took a somewhat competitive swing."

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