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Chipper Jones

Oct. 03, 2005
Oct. 03, 2005

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Oct. 3, 2005

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Chipper Jones

ATLANTA BRAVES THIRD BASEMAN

On how he, a born righty, became one of the best switch-hitters of all time, with 330 homers and a .303 average

This is an article from the Oct. 3, 2005 issue Original Layout

My dad, Larry Jones, was a serious baseball man [and a coach at Stetson University]. His idol was Mickey Mantle. We'd go out in the backyard--I was a Dodgers fan, and he was an Orioles fan--and we'd simulate the lineups. When Reggie Smith or Mike Scioscia or Kenny Landreaux came up to bat, I had to hit lefthanded. When Eddie Murray or Al Bumbry came up, he hit lefthanded.

On never missing the playoffs in 10 (soon to be 11) seasons

It's a tremendous honor. People say we haven't lived up to expectations because we've won only one World Series--but that's one more than a lot of other teams have won. We're of the mind-set that if we keep giving ourselves opportunities in the postseason, one of these days it'll bounce our way again.

On naming his one-year-old son Shea, partly for his success (17 homers) at Shea Stadium against the rival Mets

It is a very special place for me. I hit my first big league home run at Shea, a game-winner. It seemed appropriate. [Jones's fourth son was born on Sept. 20 and is named Tristan, after Hall of Fame outfielder Tris Speaker.]

On his relationship with Bobby Cox, the only big league manager he has ever had

It's outstanding. He drafted me Number 1 overall in 1990 when he was the general manager. People second-guessed him when the Braves took me, and my goal is that by the end of my career no one will second-guess him. Sure, we've clashed, but with Bobby, if he doesn't agree with something I do or if I have a problem, we sit down and talk about it. It's not done publicly.

On whether he'll retire as a Brave

I hope so. I grew up in this organization, and hopefully I'll die in this organization. I've got four little boys. I'm itching to hang out with them and be as big a part of their lives as my father was in mine. That's impossible right now with my lifestyle, but I don't think I'm going to play too much longer.

On how he'd advise this year's top draft pick, Arizona SS Justin Upton

Don't read your press clippings. Stay tunnel-visioned on the things that are going to get you [to the big leagues]. Go about your business and do it right.

On switching from third base to leftfield in 2002 and back to third in the middle of last season

We had the chance to sign third baseman Vinny Castilla. I thought he would help us, so I volunteered to move. Do I regret that decision? Yeah. Playing in the outfield got me out of my comfort zone. Angles were the hardest part. You react one way when you should react another way. I had trouble trying to cut balls off in the outfield. Third base is more of a reaction position--one or two steps and dive. Out there it's full bore for 30, 40 yards.

On his injuries this year

Fluky things. I was rounding third base, and I tore a ligament in my second toe--how does that happen? Then when I was diving for a ball at third base, I hurt my shoulder. I don't think it's getting older; it's just playing hard and playing every day, stuff will happen. I feel fine now.

On teammate Andruw Jones

The guy has been the most valuable player in the league. I went on the DL for six weeks and [we played even better] while I was out. I give 80, 90 percent of the credit to him. He was hitting home runs, playing a Gold Glove centerfield. Everybody jumped on his back and rode his momentum. --As told to Ben Reiter

JONES (.295, 20 HRS) BATS THIRD FOR ATLANTA, WHICH HOLDS A FIVE-GAME LEAD IN THE NL EAST

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