Despite pain, Chipper goes deep

Despite pain, Chipper goes deep

PHILADELPHIA -- Chipper Jones never ceases to amaze. Just a few hours after talking about the possibility that he might be battling more than simply tendinitis in his right shoulder, the Braves third baseman managed to take another step toward his first career batting title.

Jones' fifth-inning pinch-hit homer during Wednesday's 10-4 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park was remarkable considering it was just his third at-bat since Friday. Providing more reason for surprise was the fact the he hit the three-run shot while batting right-handed.

Just a few hours earlier, while telling a couple of media members that he hasn't realized much relief in his right shoulder, Jones again indicated that he was feeling more pain while batting from the right side of the plate.

"It's no better," Jones said. "I can swing the bat left-handed. But right-handed, it's still extremely painful. I've had bouts with this before and it's always gotten better with medication and treatment. This time, it's just not [getting better]."

Jones said his home run swing created more discomfort and that he doubts he'll be in the lineup for any of the three games the Braves play against the Astros this weekend.

Initially, Jones was being sent up to the plate to bat against right-handed reliever Chad Durbin. Then when the Phillies inserted left-handed reliever Scott Eyre, Braves manager Bobby Cox stuck with his veteran third baseman, who promptly sent his second career pinch-hit homer into the left-field seats.

Jones' hopes of returning to the lineup for the first time in five games were dashed on Wednesday afternoon, when he experienced pain while simulating some throws across the infield.

"I tried to throw and it took all that I could muster to throw the ball 90 feet across the infield," Jones said. "Obviously, if there was a play down the line, I doubt very seriously that I'd be able to make it."

This presents the possibility that Jones will be limited to pinch-hit duties while the Braves conclude the regular season with a three-game series this weekend in Houston. The 36-year-old third baseman hasn't played the field since exiting Friday's game against the Mets because of right shoulder discomfort.

Before Wednesday, the two pinch-hit appearances Jones had made since Friday came from the left side of the plate.

Whether Jones plays again this season shouldn't affect his bid to win the National League batting crown. Entering Wednesday, his Major League-best .364 batting average put him comfortably ahead of Albert Pujols' .350 mark.

The Braves' medical staff has told Jones that the discomfort is simply being caused by tendinitis or bursitis. But to make sure there isn't anything structurally wrong, he plans to have an MRI exam performed in Atlanta on Tuesday.

"I don't know the extent of the injury," Jones said. "[The trainers] say that it's bursitis and tendinitis in the shoulder. ... If it's what [the trainers] say it is, hopefully rest will do it a lot of good."

Because he hasn't experienced any relief since Friday, Jones admits that he's starting to get concerned that he may need to have surgery to ensure he'll be ready for the start of Spring Training. He says he began feeling some discomfort before he went on the disabled list in late July and found some relief after being activated two weeks later.

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