LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Along with being one of the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history, Chipper Jones has a unique ability to convey his vast knowledge in a manner that would seemingly allow him to be a successful manager or hitting coach.Jones will get a taste of the coaching
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Along with being one of the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history, Chipper Jones has a unique ability to convey his vast knowledge in a manner that would seemingly allow him to be a successful manager or hitting coach.
Jones will get a taste of the coaching profession as he spends the next two weeks evaluating and attempting to enrich some of the Braves' young talent at both the Major League and Minor League levels. But as he experiences his first trip to Spring Training since 2013, the former Atlanta great will not be prepping himself for a future coaching role. Instead, he seems more interested in potentially gaining a more enhanced front-office role.
"I don't know what I want to do and I don't know what this is going to lead to," Jones said. "This is just me dipping my toe in the water to see how I like it. I know as of right now, I don't want to put the uniform on day in and day out. But if the opportunity arises for me to climb the ladder without having to put the uniform on day in and day out, that would be ideal."
When the Braves hired Jones as a special assistant to the general manager in December, they envisioned him filling a variety of part-time roles, including the one he began Tuesday, when he arrived at Spring Training to serve as an extra coach and also get a better sense of how front-office officials evaluate players at both the Major League and Minor League levels.
"The most fun has been getting a chance to go down and look at some of the younger players and younger hitters and just being privy to some of the conversations that I wasn't privy to when I was playing," Jones said. "It's been great to listen to Bobby Cox and some of the coaches break down Minor League players. It's really been a learning experience."
After being impressed by what he saw in 18-year-old center fielder Ronald Acuna and some of the other Minor Leaguers on the back fields at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex Wednesday, Jones walked away from a 15-minute conversation with shortstop Dansby Swanson -- the Braves' No. 1 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com -- by saying "everybody in the organization loves him."
Jones spent some time Wednesday with Austin Riley, the 18-year-old slugger who has already been tagged Atlanta's future third baseman. But he has not yet had a chance to see Riley display his powerful swing.
"They're stocking the Minor Leagues with some arms and good, young everyday talent," Jones said. "I've seen three or four kids back there on those back fields that I've been astonished at how good they are."
After spending the entirety of his Hall of Fame-caliber career with the Braves, Jones moved to Texas to spend some time on his ranch. But he is now relocating to Atlanta and plans to be at Turner Field for at least one game of every homestand this year. He may also make some trips to the nearby Minor League affiliates (Class A Rome and Triple-A Gwinnett) and spend some time evaluating some of the players the Braves could take in this year's Draft.
"The culture and the environment here is a little different than it has been in the recent past," Jones said. "So, it's a good environment to be around and it's one I wouldn't mind being around a little more."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.