PITTSBURGH -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was correct with his suspicion that he would not be able to keep Chipper Jones out of his lineup for Monday night's series opener against the Pirates. Ignoring the fact that he had played each of the previous six days, Jones took advantage of one last chance to face a left-handed starter before the postseason.
"I'm not feeling real good at the plate and I feel like I need to get a couple [at-bats] off of a lefty," Jones said. "This will be my last chance before Friday. So I'll probably take tomorrow off."
Going into Monday's matchup against former Braves prospect and current Pirates rookie Jeff Locke, Jones had recorded just four hits in his previous 26 at-bats. He had four hits in the 20 at-bats he had registered against left-handed pitchers dating back to Sept. 7.
This mini drought was influenced by some of the emotional fatigue that he felt while playing the entirety of each of the final six games of his final homestand.
Though he genuinely appreciated the overwhelming amount of support he received while playing in front of three sold-out crowds at Turner Field this past weekend, he acknowledged he appreciated the chance to decompress after traveling to Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
"I got some epic sleep," Jones said.
Jones has been looking forward to this final trip to Pittsburgh. His roots in this city are tied to his love for the Steelers and the great appreciation he had for Pirates legend Willie Stargell, who served as an influential coach as Jones was making his way through the Braves' Minor League system.
"I always looked forward to coming to Pittsburgh," Jones said. "When they were playing at Three Rivers, I thought it was cool that I got to play on the same field that the Steelers played on. I had a lot of success over there. I always got jacked up to play there."
Jones has produced five 4-for-4 games in his career. Two of those games were the first two games that he ever played in Pittsburgh. He ended up hitting .336 (38-for-113) with six home runs and a .967 OPS in 28 career games at Three Rivers Stadium.
"That was a good start," Jones said. "Three Rivers was one of those stadiums like Shea [Stadium] for me. I saw the ball really good there. I always did fairly well playing on the old AstroTurf back in the day. I enjoyed playing on those fast tracks.