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Chipper likely won't start in finale

Chipper likely won't start in finale

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HOUSTON -- Other than the possibility of one final pinch-hit appearance, it appears Chipper Jones' season is complete. The Braves third baseman revealed on Saturday that he'd likely only start Sunday's season finale against the Astros if Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols continued to narrow the gap in the National League batting title race.

But Pujols went 1-for-4 on Saturday night to drop his batting average to .356 and essentially ensured Jones will win his first career batting title.

After going hitless in a pinch-hit at-bat on Saturday, Jones will enter the season's final day with a .364 batting average, that will only slightly change if he registers another pinch-hit at-bat. A sore right shoulder has forced the 36-year-old third baseman to be out of the Braves' starting lineup for the past seven games.

Jones took batting practice and made multiple throws on Friday, with the intention of returning to the lineup on Saturday. But when he awoke on Saturday, he was feeling even more discomfort in his shoulder.

"All of the stuff that I did [Friday] just made it more sore," Jones said. "I think that will probably do it for me [for the season]."

Jones, who confirmed he'd be available to pinch-hit during the season's final two games, is also currently in position to set the record for season batting average for a switch hitter. His .3644 average is slightly behind than record mark of .3649 that Mickey Mantle set in 1957.

"Whatever happens, I can't complain," said Jones, who was denied a batting title on the final day of the 2007 season. "I've hit all year as well as I possibly could."

The Braves trainers believe that Jones' shoulder discomfort has been caused by tendinitis or bursitis. While he trusts their evaluation, he still plans to have an MRI exam performed in Atlanta on Tuesday.

"It's just for peace of mind," Jones said. "I'd hate to go through the whole offseason having something structurally wrong with my shoulder and not get it fixed."

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

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