Last August, when Atlanta Braves’ third baseman Chipper Jones went out with a season-ending knee injury, several commentators thought it might be the end of his career as well. After all, the man is a 38-year old baseball player with plenty of reasons to hang up his hat and call it a day, not the least of which is a torn ACL. Answering questions about whether he would come back, Jones said, “I don’t know. I’m gonna have to wait and see how the rehab goes. I don’t really want to make a decision when I’m at a low point like this. If the rehab goes well and I feel confident going into next February, I will probably give it a whirl.”
Well, it’s next February. And he’s back. He took a few turns at bat, snatched up a few grounders at third base, and showed signs that he was about 80% better. Unlike football or hockey, both contact sports, baseball is game that can be played with men who aren’t in their best physical condition. As the season nears, he’ll only get better and the former MVP and NL batting champion shows few indications that he plans to sit this one in the dugout.
This is not the first time that Jones has battled a torn ACL. The first time this happened was 1994 and the physical pain could be felt far more than this time around. In fact, when word came down in August that the damage was season-ending and was equal to his 1994 injury, Jones was surprised. “I didn’t have the [same] amount of pain or swelling right off the bat.” (try to ignore the pun) In other words, one torn ACL didn’t feel as bad as the other torn ACL. Still, the degree of damage isn’t much different.
When he returned to the field this week, he did much of it for show, suggesting that fans need to see him getting back to work. Unfortunately, he said, there are still days when it hurts to get out of bed.
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