ATLANTA (AP) — With his 40th birthday approaching, Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones announced Thursday he will retire after the season.
Jones, who has spent his entire 18-year career with the Braves, battled a rash of injuries the past several seasons and actually decided to retire in 2010, only to change his mind.
This time, he means it.
The team issued a statement before its spring training game in Kissimmee, Fla., to announce this would be Jones' final season. No matter what happens, the 1999 NL MVP will go down as one of the game's greatest switch-hitters, a strong candidate for Cooperstown with his .304 career average, 454 homers and 1,561 RBIs.
Former Braves manager Bobby Cox said Jones should go into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot.
"No doubt," Cox said. "A switch-hitter who has played on winners and done everything he's done."
During the early days of spring training, Jones marveled that he was still with the Braves with his milestone birthday coming up in April.
"Never in my mid-20s would I have given myself a snowball's chance to be in camp and have a job at 40 years old," Jones told The Associated Press. "But I like to think I've kept myself in pretty good shape over the years. The skills are still there to go out and get it done. I don't know for how much longer, but we're gonna ride it as long as we can."
That ride lasts one more season.
The Braves said Jones hopes to remain with the organization in another capacity after his playing career ends, and he has indicated that being a hitting instructor was the most likely option. He has no desire to go into managing.
"I think I'd be better off as a specialty coach," Jones told the AP last month. "I have such a passion for hitting. I'm kind of a one-track-mind kind of guy. I can't have my hands in a bunch jars and be delegating responsibility for a bunch of different areas. I'd much rather stay focused on just one area and be able to do that well. While I think I could manage, I really don't have the urge to manage. I'd much rather be a hitting coach than a manager."
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