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Chipper Jones to retire after 2012 season
Thursday, 22 March 2012

Ajc.com — Braves icon Chipper Jones is calling it a career.

One of greatest third baseman in major league history, Jones will retire following the 2012 season, after two decades in an Atlanta uniform. He will have a news conference later today.

In a statement by the team, the Braves and Jones, who turns 40 next month, have expressed interest in his rejoining the organization in a yet-to-be-determined capacity after 2012. Jones has said he’d be interesting in becoming a hitting coach someday, but not managing.

The No. 1 selection in the 1990 Major League Draft, he has played his entire career in the Braves organization. He currently leads all active players with 18 years of service with the same team.

Since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, Jones ranks as the franchise leader in nearly every offensive category.  He has a .304 career batting average, .402 on-base percentage and .533 slugging percentage, with 454 home runs, 526 doubles and 1,561 RBIs in 2,387 games.

Jones finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1995 and went on to earn the league MVP Award in 1999. He has been on seven NL All-Star teams and was voted an All-Star starter four times, most recently in 2008.

He won the NL batting title in 2008 with a .364 average, the second-highest in history for a switch-hitter. Mickey Mantle hit .365 for the New York Yankees in 1957.

Jones is the only switch-hitter in history to post a .300 career average with more than 300 homers, and his career average ranks second all-time among switch hitters.

Jones, whom many believe will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, is entering the last guaranteed year of a contract that will pay $14 million in 2012. The deal included a $7 million team option for 2013, which would vest automatically at $9 million if he played 123 games in 2012.

He played 126 games in 2011 despite a stint on the disabled list for arthroscopic right knee surgery, which kept him out of the All-Star game. He had reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee in 2010, the second time he’s had that procedure.

He hit .275 with a .344 on-base percentage and .470 slugging percentage last season, well off his .304/.402/.533 career line. He had 18 homers and 70 RBIs; the only time he’s had fewer of either was 2010, when he had 18 homers and 46 RBIs in 95 games.

Still, his 33 doubles in 2011 were his second-most since 2003, and his .814 on-base-plus-slugging percentage was third among NL third basemen.

He’s endured difficult spring trainings before, but told reporters last week that this had been even tougher than a year ago when he was coming back from major knee surgery. He said there was no cartilage remaining in  his right knee, and Jones missed five consecutive games with soreness after playing the Grapefruit League opener.

“It’s a honor for me to say I’ve been able to play with him for eight years,” Braves pitcher Tim Hudson said. ” I grew up – this probably isn’t going to make him feel real good – but I grew up watching him play. Being able to play with him and Bobby Cox and John Smoltz and all those guys who put this organization on the map it’s not only an honor for me but everybody who had the experience of playing here.

“He has done a lot in this game and played a long time. Everybody is going to have that day where they hang it up. We knew it was coming at some point. He felt it was his time.”

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