Chipper: 'We've got five or six studs in the starting lineup'

In Q&A, Hall of Famer discusses role with club, Braves' young stars

February 27th, 2023

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Everything seemed to be right again when Chipper Jones arrived at Spring Training on Monday. The Hall of Fame third baseman will spend three weeks in Braves camp and then head back to Atlanta to again prepare for his role as a hitting consultant.

Along with being one of the best players in Braves history, Jones has proven to be a hitting savant. He looks forward to the chance to continue conveying knowledge while working with Atlanta's players before home games this year. He missed the 2021 postseason and all of last season because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Here are some of Jones’ thoughts about the upcoming season. How fulfilling has it been for the Braves to give you a role like this, where you can be around your family and the game?

Jones: I want to keep my foot in the door, just in case I want to do more, but I’ve still got three little ones at the house. I still love being a dad and being a good husband. I can be [with the players] from 2 o’clock until 7 o’clock. If I want to stay for the game, I can. If I want to go home, put the kids to bed and watch the game on TV, I can do that. It’s really the best of both worlds for me. What was it like to see the Braves win the World Series in 2021, knowing you had spent so much time helping hitters before home games that year?

Jones: I had tears in my eyes. I was actually hunting in Iowa when they won it. I was sitting at a table in front of the TV, and I got misty[-eyed], man, because, I was with those guys from day one of Spring Training and most of the home games and what not. It’s not always the team with 100 wins. We won 100 games six times when I was here, and not one of those years did we win a World Series. [The 2021 team] got hot at the right time. They started smelling it in September. Once they started smelling it, you couldn’t beat them. What are you thoughts about Michael Harris II?

Jones: Michael Harris is a superstar. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. I saw him coming up and immediately thought he was a left-handed Ronald Acuña [Jr.]. He’s just a phenomenal kid. He works hard. He’s the kind of guy you really pull for. The core is here. We’ve got five or six studs in the starting lineup. The key is keeping them healthy all year and providing this pitching staff with as much offense as we can. You described yourself as a “proud papa” when Austin Riley enjoyed his first 30-homer season in 2021. What did you think about him following that year with yet another great season?

Jones: I think there's more in the tank. I really do. I don't think he's hit his ceiling yet. But the main thing I like is the consistency. He goes to the post every single day. He's out there at third base, and he’s hitting third in lineup, and he’s looked upon to knock in 100 [runs] and hit 30 [homers] and score 100 [runs] and play good defense. He's done that. It's just great to see. Every once in a while, I’ll shoot him a text and say, "You made me proud today." What do you think about MLB’s new pitch timer rules?

Jones: It’s going to be rough on the hitters here at the beginning, but they’ll make the adjustments. From a pitching standpoint, I think it helps the pitchers. Get the ball, get back on the mound. It helps you get into a rhythm. I hope our pitchers feel that way. I think it’s a good thing.