First Charlie Morton, then Jordan Schafer, then Garret Anderson, and now Chipper Jones has joined the list of inconvenient and nagging spring training injuries. The injury, which forced Chipper out of the lineup as he swung at a pitch in the fifth inning of the United States' 15-to-6 victory over Venezuela, is listed as a "mild oblique strain." US manager Davey Johnson puts injuries like this in spring training into perspective:
"I told David Wright 'This is probably the last time you're going to DH,"' Johnson said. "Any time somebody has a little strain in the spring you have to be real cautious."
There is a lot of downplaying how serious this is by both Chipper and the WBC folks. Obviously no one wants to see their big stars go down in this otherwise exhibition-style game, but as karma would have it, it is our star player. The added early and extended game action is likely a factor that contributed to Chipper's injury. Normally, a veteran like Jones would ease himself into playing nine innings throughout the course of the month-long spring training. But with the WBC forcing stars like him to play "for real" in early March, a player does not have time to work out the kinks and work up to full playing condition.
This could have something to do with Chipper's dismal performance so far in the Classic, where he is 0-for-7 with five strikeouts (reminding many of another Jones who used to wear the Braves uniform). This injury might be the best thing for Chipper, as it will allow him to reset himself and perpare at a pace better suited to his aging body.