At first, even Chipper Jones thought he would be out for the rest of the season. After he slipped on the wet turf at AT&T park Sunday the entire Braves' Nation was scared of what the doctors would find. While the news could have been much worse, it's still not so great.
Jones will go to the 15-day disabled list with a lateral right ankle sprain and a sprain of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee.
"Well I’ve got some sprained ligaments in my knee and ankle," Jones said before Monday's home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. "It’s going to be the better part of ten days probably before I’m able to play, so I’m going more than likely going on the DL and get a healthy body and hopefully get this thing real good and healthy before I come back."
“He’ll be on the DL for fifteen days and our doctors say that injury heals itself," said General Manager John Schuerholz. "It just takes time, but it should take no more, and maybe not as much time as the fifteen days will provide. So that’s good. But to be absolutely certain that he’s completely healthy when he returns, we’re putting him on the list."
Jones said he originally thought he had completely tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He suffered that same injury back in 1994, when he was trying to make the Atlanta roster as a rookie outfielder. Jones said he hasn't let the potential for another major knee injury enter his mind, but when he hears pops, he starts to worry.
"I’ve heard a pop in my knee before and it cost me the whole season, so there was no reason to think it couldn’t happen again," Jones explained. "Thankfully it was a pop on the outside of the knee and not on the inside. The inside means ACL, but the outside means you still have a chance to be able to rehab it and play."
"When I went down on the ground yesterday I felt a pop, that’s why I grabbed my knee. It (the knee) didn’t really hurt much yesterday. My ankle was very painful, but today when I woke up the knee pain was there."
After missing parts of the last two seasons, Jones was really striving to stay healthy this year. When he went down yesterday, the potential of missing the rest of the season was bothersome. And while he'll have to miss some time, he's grateful it will only be for a few weeks.
"It’s a big load off my mind to be honest with you," Jones said. "Anytime you hear a pop, it’s not good news. I was scared that I might have damaged the ligament in my knee. Everybody has assured me that all the ligaments are stable, so that’s a pretty good positive."
The Braves are confident a few days rest will have Jones ready to go within two weeks. And Jones feels he'll be set to return to the lineup when the team plays in Milwaukee on April 26th.
"Hopefully we won’t need a re-evaluation," Jones continued. "Hopefully my knee will be stable enough that I can take swings and move laterally out in the field. If that’s the case, then I’ll be ready to go."
"You hate to lose him for one day, but with the way that injury looked when it occurred, to have this result from the examination is very positive and very encouraging," Schuerholz said.
The Braves will make an addition to their roster before Wednesday's game with the Phillies, most likely recalling infielder Tony Pena, Jr. from Triple-A Richmond.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.