Chipper returns with a vengeance

Chipper returns with big game

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Chipper Jones continued to swing a hot bat when he returned to the Braves' lineup on Friday afternoon at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. Now he's just hoping that this will be the year when he will once again stay in that lineup on a regular basis.

Playing for the first time since tweaking his right hamstring in Sunday's batting practice, Jones recorded two hits and drew a walk in three plate appearances. His two-run third-inning single wasn't enough for the Braves in a 9-6 loss to the Indians.

"I didn't even feel it," said Jones, who wasn't even too concerned about the hamstring when he first felt the discomfort last weekend.

Braves manager Bobby Cox was pleased to see Jones return to the lineup without any problems. The veteran third baseman has four hits in his first seven Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Chipper had a great day," Cox said. "He's hit the ball hard all spring."

Jones initially felt some tightness in his hamstring while taking grounders during Sunday's batting practice. The discomfort continued when he took swings from the right side and then got worse when he started taking swings from the left side.

"Looking back, I probably got a little dehydrated, and my hamstring just kind of tightened up and balled up more than anything," Jones said. "That happens from time to time."

During the past four seasons, Jones has made five trips to the disabled list and never played in more than 137 games. His desire to appear in closer to 150 games this year played a part in his decision not to test a cranky hamstring during March's first week.

"I can get ample at-bats towards the end of Spring Training," said Jones, who would like to get at least 30 at-bats from the left side of the plate. "I just need to make sure that's behind me, because honestly, today I didn't even feel it."

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