The Union Recorder

Local Sports

February 18, 2013

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

(Continued)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. —

Pitcher Kris Medlen is still getting used to the idea that Jones is no longer a teammate.

"It's weird," Medlen said, shaking his head. "Coach Jones. Hmm."

Coming off that all-too-brief appearance in the playoffs as a wild-card team — with a throwing error by Jones contributing heavily to the loss — the Braves made a couple of dramatic moves to replace the offensive production that No. 10 provided with such regularity over his 20-plus-year career.

First, they signed B.J. Upton as a free agent for essentially the same money Jones was receiving. Then, they pulled off a blockbuster deal with Arizona to land B.J.'s younger brother, Justin.

It's early, but Jones likes what he sees.

"They certainly made some sexy moves," he said. "When this team is going well, it's going to be an exciting team to watch. Certainly, the three guys in the outfield (Upton, Upton and Heyward) are as dynamic as anybody else's threesome in baseball."

That said, Jones is not ready to proclaim the Braves the team to beat in the NL East, not until they prove they can knock off defending champ Washington. And, for all the attention focused on offense-bolstering moves, he figures their success will largely be determined by the pitching staff — mainly, can a rotation led by Kris Medlen and Tim Hudson hand off leads to the bullpen, one of the deepest, most dominant units in the game?

"The Braves have the ability to shorten games," Jones said. "If they have the lead after seven innings, I certainly like the Braves' chances of winning a lot of ballgames."

When Jones headed out to the batting cages, the fans recognized him instantly — even though he was bundled up in a jacket on the unseasonably cold day (temperatures were in the 40s) and his eyes were hidden behind a pair of white-framed sunglasses.

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