Braves fans were understandably excited when Chipper Jones decided to return to the Braves in December in an advisory capacity. While the specifics of his role with the team were somewhat unclear, the team and Chipper indicated he would be helping Braves hitters towards the end of spring training, assisting with scouting of hitters, and other duties.
As it turns out, the limited role that many retired players have taken with teams in the past and was hinted at upon the announcement of Chipper's hire may not be what happens given today's news.
The article goes into detail regarding Chipper's desire to move back to Atlanta after living on his ranch in Texas for the last year and a half, in particular his desire to be closer to his sons. However, of particular note is where Chipper talks about his role with the team. He explicitly says that he wants an expanded role and desires to be nearby in case any of the Braves' hitters need advice, coaching, or anything. His exact words were,
"I don't want to just be a face that shows up every once in a while," Jones said. "And I know that's the way it's going to be if I'm living out here. There are going to be times when Freddie Freeman is going to call me up and say, ‘I need you to look at me, I need you to analyze footage.' Jace Peterson might say, ‘Hey man, can you come down and give us a third set of eyes?' I want to be there for them. I want to be a phone call away. I want to be a 30-minute drive away. I don't want to be five states and 1,500 miles. I'm taking this job seriously."
Certainly encouraging news for Braves fans who want Chipper to be more involved with the franchise and see his coaching as a way for the offense to turn the corner and improve, especially with all of the young players expected to be on the roster in the coming years. This could also be Chipper's first move in what he hopes to be an expanded role as hitting coach for the team in the future.
Having Chipper around certainly should help the Braves hitters, given his presumed Hall of Fame career as a power-hitting, switch hitting third baseman who hit for average and power his entire career. While the extent that Chipper will have influence and control over the team and the hitters specifically, it does appear that he wants a big role with the team. One only hopes that it pays big dividends as the Braves move in to SunTrust Park in 2017.