ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones moved back to the infield, as expected. His position was the surprise.
"It's the only way we can get him in the lineup," Cox said.
"That's what we're going to do for a week or two. Or a game or
Jones, an everyday third baseman from 1995-01, had been taking grounders at first in the past few weeks and was expected to play there since an injured right hamstring limited his mobility in left
Instead, the 1999 NL MVP was back at third. Cox made the
decision to leave Julio Franco at first because Franco is one of the
Braves' best hitters -- he was 7-for-18 (.389) on the recent
six-game road trip.
"Third is my natural position, I feel comfortable there,"
Jones said. "I've never played an inning at first. It just seemed
like the natural thing to do."
DeRosa, one of Jones' best friends, was noticeably disappointed.
"I just want this team to know -- and I think they do -- that I
just want what's best for our team," he said. "I don't think it's
me on the bench, and I think most guys would say that."
Jones has also played 48 games at shortstop during his 11-year career -- but none since 2000. He was on the disabled list from
April 26-May 7 with a pulled hamstring, then injured it again
earlier this month against Montreal.
Since then, Jones only returned to the lineup as a designated
hitter when the Braves visited AL teams during interleague play. He
looks forward to getting back in the infield.
"You're into the game every pitch," Jones said. "You're
focused on what's called and what's thrown. Out in the outfield,
it's not that way. That was the hardest part."
He struggled a bit defensively at both positions throughout his career, totaling 25 errors twice at third and finished with seven
in each of the past two seasons in left field.
Before the 2002 season, Jones volunteered to try the outfield so the Braves could sign Vinny Castilla. Now, in order to get back in
the lineup, he's relegating his buddy to the bench.
"It's difficult for him," Jones said. "He's waited his whole
life for an opportunity to play every day in the big leagues, and
he had it. As I told him, I don't think I can go out in the
outfield and survive right now."
DeRosa might get a chance to play second a little, with Marcus Giles still out with a broken collarbone. Rookie Nick Green has been impressive there in place of Giles, batting .297 with two
homers and 12 RBIs.
In 60 games, DeRosa is hitting .223 with three home runs.
"Fifty percent of it is brought on by how I started," DeRosa
said. "It's definitely a tough pill to swallow. But it's kind of
tough to argue my position with a .223 batting average."