Braves place Chipper on 15-day DL

Braves place Chipper on 15-day DL

ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones has been placed on the disabled list for the third consecutive season. But he and the Braves are hopeful that the sprains he suffered to both his right knee and right ankle won't prove to be a lingering problem.

Just before Monday night's home opener against the Phillies, the Braves announced that they were placing Jones on the 15-day disabled list. He suffered the injuries while sliding across the wet grass at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon.

The Braves medical staff diagnosed both sprains as being Grade 1, which is the lowest grade on the severity scale.

"Our doctors say that injury heals itself," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "It just takes time. It should take no more than that time and maybe not even quite as much time as the 15 days will provide. To be absolutely certain that he is healthy when he returns, we're putting him on the list."

Jones suffered the injury during Sunday's seventh inning. As the veteran third baseman charged to field a slow roller off Mike Matheny's bat, his right foot slipped and he skidded awkwardly to the ground. When he felt a pop, he feared he might have done significant damage.

"I hate to lose him for one day," Schuerholz said. "But the way that injury looked when it occurred, to have this result from the examination is very positive."

When Jones awoke on Monday morning, he told his wife that he thought he might have damaged his knee worse than expected. But after an MRI showed a simple sprain, his fears were reduced. Jones also had X-rays taken of his ankle, which was diagnosed as a sprain on Sunday.

"I woke up this morning and my knee was killing me," Jones said. "It's killing me right in the spot where I heard the pop. The ankle is starting to feel better. I think we iced it to the point where we got a lot of the swelling out. I don't see that being a big problem. The big thing is going to be the knee.

"Anytime you hear a pop, you're going to think the worst. I heard a pop a couple of years ago when I tore my hamstring, I heard a pop when I blew out my knee and I heard the same thing yesterday. So, I was pretty scared."

Jones' only previous significant knee injury came in 1994, when his rise to the Majors was stopped with a completely torn left anterior cruciate ligament.

After spending his first eight big-league seasons relatively injury-free, Jones has been marred by injury. A sprained right hamstring caused him to miss 25 games during the 2004 season. Last year, he spent six weeks on the disabled list because of left foot injury.

Jones is hopeful that he won't have to miss significant time with this injury. He'll be eligible for activation on April 25.

"When you have a sprained knee, your knee is going to tell you," Jones said. "If you're not able to pivot or torque on your knee, your knee is going to tell you. You're not going to be able to play at this level with a bum knee. It'll tell me. When I'm able to come out here and swing the bat left-handed and be able to move laterally side to side, I'll be back in there."

Wilson Betemit will serve as the team's starting third baseman until Jones returns. Ryan Langerhans assumed Jones' third spot in the batting order for Monday night's game.

The Braves will select a replacement for Jones' spot on the 25-man roster before Wednesday night's game against the Phillies. It will likely be Triple-A Richmond's Tony Pena, a solid defender who can play each of the infield positions.

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