Braves place Chipper on 15-day DL

Chipper on 15-day DL; Marte called up

ATLANTA -- While it might seem like the worst possible development the struggling Braves could encounter, they truly had no other choice but to place Chipper Jones on the 15-day disabled list on Monday.

Now they can only hope that Jones won't need surgery on his left foot and that he might possibly need just a few weeks of inactivity.

"He needs to rest," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "If he needs surgery, he'll have surgery."

Jones, whose roster spot will be filled by top prospect Andy Marte, will gain a better understanding of his injury when he has an MRI done on Tuesday in Atlanta. After meeting with team physician Joe Chandler on Monday, it was determined he likely has some ligament damage in between the second and third toes of his left foot.

"We'll see what that turns up and what we need to do to fix whatever is wrong," said Jones, who originally suffered the injury on April 24 and then aggravated it while pushing out of the batter's box in the eighth inning of Sunday afternoon's game against the Pirates at PNC Park.

Since first suffering the injury, Jones has battled daily discomfort. Thus, he's been confident for more than a month that the injury wasn't simply just a bone bruise, as was originally diagnosed by the Braves.

Because some of the ligaments in his foot are too small, there's a chance the MRI won't reveal the cause of the discomfort. That's why one wasn't taken when he originally suffered the injury. But he's happy now that he'll at least have a chance to see if it will show some damage.

"That's all I've wanted to know since Day 1," Jones said. "I've known it wasn't just a bone bruise. I've wanted somebody to tell me, 'You've got this wrong and this is how we're going to fix it and you're going to be out this long.' "

When Jones fell to the ground in pain on Sunday, he was quite sure that he'd be making his second trip to the disabled list in the past two years. In addition to the lingering pain, he's come to realize surgery could be a possibility and that he could miss a significant amount of time.

"Hopefully that's not the case," Jones said. "But you can't rule anything out, until you know."

Jones was hitting .381 and had a .513 on-base percentage when he first suffered the injury while running toward the plate on April 24. Since then, without the ability to push of his left foot when swinging from the left side or land on it without discomfort from the right side, his production has dropped considerably.

After leaving Sunday's game, he was batting .282 and had a .411 on-base percentage.

"These injuries the last couple of years aren't allowing me to be the type of ballplayer that I want to be," said Jones, who had produced at least 100 RBIs in eight consecutive years before being plagued by a right hamstring injury throughout most of last season.

Jones's hamstring injury led a former MVP, who entered 2004 with a .309 career batting average, to hit just .248. This year, he's had trouble with both of his feet and an oblique injury. Even before Sunday's mishap, injuries had caused him to be absent from the starting lineup 13 times.

Braves general manager John Schuerholz doesn't enjoy having to place Jones on the disabled list. But he's not concerned the 32-year-old third baseman, who is owed an average of approximately $17 million a year over the next four seasons, has become an injury liability.

"You don't like to see your best player, your star player, not in uniform and not in your lineup," Schuerholz said. "This guy has been in the middle of our lineup and been the cornerstone of our championship teams for over 10 years. So obviously we'd rather have him in our lineup than not in our lineup."

Taking Jones' spot in the lineup will likely be Marte, who was hitting .276 with nine homers and 35 RBIs at Triple-A Richmond. Wilson Betemit has played well lately and will likely see some time at third base and at shortstop, where Rafael Furcal continues to struggle.

"You always hold out hope, whoever is coming up in my spot, will provide a spark," Jones said.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.