Notes: Chipper sits with oblique injury

Notes: Chipper sits with oblique injury

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It took Chipper Jones just one day to overcome the ankle sprain he suffered Monday. It remains to be seen how long his latest ailment will sideline him.

Jones was scratched from Friday night's lineup against the Cardinals because of a sore right oblique muscle that he suffered during batting practice. This isn't the same left oblique muscle that accounted for two of his three trips to the disabled list last year.

Nor is this currently considered a significant injury. But knowing that oblique injuries can prove to be lingering problems, Braves manager Bobby Cox isn't going to rush Jones back to action.

"I want to make sure it doesn't hurt," Cox said. "If I have to, I'll wait the rest of [Spring Training]."

As he was leaving Disney's Wide World of Sports complex just after the start of the game, Jones told a Braves official that the right oblique muscle "bit" him during batting practice.

Jones, who is hitting .280 (7-for-25) in Grapefruit League play, hasn't played more than 110 games either of the past two seasons.

Fortunately, Jones' troublesome feet haven't yet proven to be a problem this year. He left Monday's game against the Cardinals after turning his left ankle while coming out of the batter's box during a first-inning at-bat.

When Jones returned to the lineup Tuesday night against the Astros, he indicated that he needed to get some at-bats. The 34-year-old third baseman hit his first homer of the Spring during Thursday night's loss to the Yankees.

Gonzalez unconcerned: Cox seemed unfazed by the fact that his top two setup men, Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez, both allowed homers Friday night. Soriano, who hadn't previously allowed a run, surrendered a Chris Duncan homer to begin the fifth inning.

One inning later, Minor League journeyman Edgar Gonzalez drilled a two-run shot off Mike Gonzalez, who has allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in six Grapefruit League innings.

"I'm not even worried about that," Gonzalez said. "I know I am about an outing away from really getting going."

Gonzalez says his left elbow hasn't provided him any sense of discomfort. But he admits that he has lacked the same aggression that he'd usually have during a regular season game.

"You'll see the difference," said Gonzalez, who converted each of the 24 save opportunities he had with the Pirates last year.

Woodward appears: Chris Woodward, who had been out since straining his right calf on Feb. 28, impressed Cox while playing in all five innings of Friday's intrasquad Minor League game.

While registering four at-bats against Kyle Davies, Woodward recorded a sharp single and a long flyout. In addition, while playing shortstop, he made a diving play that certainly caught Cox's attention.

"He looked great," Cox said of Woodward, who is targeted to begin the season as one of Atlanta's utility infielders.

Cox plans to continue playing Woodward on a daily basis. If necessary, he'll have him play in some Minor League games, in which he'd have the opportunity to get an at-bat every inning.

As for Willy Aybar, who has been out since Saturday with a sore right hand, he says that he should be able to begin playing by the beginning of next week. Aybar, who is slated to be the other utility infielder, suffered the ailment during the winter and Cox says it's not one that would force him to begin the year on the disabled list.

Stockman returns: Because he had to go to a foreign country to obtain his visa, Phil Stockman drew the enviable task of traveling to the Bahamas earlier this week. He arrived on Tuesday and left on Thursday with the paperwork that allows him to begin pitching for the Braves.

"It was a great experience," Stockman said. "It's a nice country."

Before encountering the visa problems and a sore back that he believes might have been a product of his hotel bed, Stockman was considered a candidate for the Atlanta bullpen. Now with his previous problems in the past, the hard-throwing Australian hopes to make his Grapefruit League debut in about a week.

"Everything is good now," Stockman said. "I look forward to getting into a game."

Coming up: The Cardinals and Braves will conclude their two-game series on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET. Two former closers will take the hill as John Smoltz opposes Braden Looper.

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