Chipper hoping to return to lineup by weekend
Third baseman takes batting practice for first time since surgery
MIAMI -- The Braves could have a key player back in a few days as third baseman Chipper Jones prepares for his return from a leg injury.
Jones took batting practice Tuesday at Marlins Park for the first time since having surgery May 26 to drain a hematoma on his lower left leg.
"I feel good," Jones said. "Today is the first day that I picked up a bat in quite some time. I felt good. I don't have any pain. I'm going to probably get my stitches off [Wednesday], which is good. I have no restrictions. They're letting me go out and hit and take ground balls and run, even with the stitches in."
The veteran is eligible to be activated on Friday, but Atlanta could choose to send him on a rehab assignment first. That is a situation Jones is trying to avoid.
"I'm haggling with management right now as to whether I take a rehab assignment or not," Jones said. "The next couple of days will determine that."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez admits the next few days will be interesting as everyone tries to determine what would be best for Jones and the team.
"This is going to be the Gonzalez-Jones soap opera," Gonzalez joked. "The last answer he gave me was he didn't give me an answer. That's what my wife usually does to me when she's not exactly on board."
Jones has strong feelings regarding rehab assignments and is eager to return to action in the big leagues instead of in the Minors.
"I'm not a big fan of rehab assignments," Jones said. "I feel like if I'm healthy enough to go down to play, I'm healthy enough to stay here. I'm not trying to help win a Governor's Cup. I'm trying to help us win the National League East. Obviously, the more I can be here, the happier I am."
Jones expects a decision regarding a rehab assignment to be made by the end of the series with the Marlins. While the Braves hope to have him back in about a week, Jones would prefer to return as soon as he is eligible.
"I would say probably at some point [Wednesday] or early Thursday," Jones said. "I know Fredi had said something about him wanting me back by the time the Yankees series starts. I want to be there for the Blue Jays series when I'm eligible to come off. We'll spend the next few days haggling over that."
The Braves could use the veteran's presence as they have been successful with him playing and have struggled while he has been out. Atlanta is 19-5 with Jones in the starting lineup and 10-20 without him.
"He's so important to our lineup," Gonzalez said. "Just look at the numbers. For him to come back and be sore and we have to give him a couple of days off, who knows? If he goes out and plays two or three games, you don't know how much better that soreness will be."
While Jones is at least a few days away from returning, the Braves did get another key player back in the lineup on Tuesday. Brian McCann returned to action after he missed Sunday's game due to a bruised left knee. McCann sustained the injury on Saturday night against the Nationals.
"It's still sore, but it's good enough," McCann said. "Makes it a little tough to squat, but it's not that big of a deal. I'm good to go."
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.