ATLANTA (AP) -Chipper Jones was back at third base for the Braves on Monday night, passing the first full test for his ailing wrists.
Jones spent five games as a designated hitter after coming off the disabled list last week, but the DH wasn't in use as Atlanta returned home for an interleague series against the Boston Red Sox.
So, he had to play both offense and defense. So far, so good - Jones went 3-for-5 with no major problems in the field.
``I bumped it up a little, not severe,'' Jones said after Atlanta's 9-4 victory over the Red Sox. ``I have a pretty big pad in my glove. It stung me for about 20 seconds.''
While Jones could try to avoid diving for any balls hit toward third, it's hard for a fielder to make that sort of split-second decision in the heat of a game.
``To a certain extent, you can control when you dive,'' Jones said beforehand. ``In a big situation, playing third base, it's just reaction. You do it without thinking. You don't have much time to negotiate whether you dive or not.''
The sore wrists are also affecting him at the plate, though Jones came into the night with a six-game hitting streak.
``I'm not driving balls like I want to,'' he said. ``It's affected my ability to get the balls into the gaps, off the wall and over the wall. But hopefully it will come back soon.''
Jones, who has been plagued by injuries over four straight seasons, plans to play through the latest setback - especially with the Braves chasing the New York Mets for first place in the NL East.
Jones, who prefers to hit in the third spot, batted cleanup against the Red Sox. The Braves couldn't afford to bump hot-hitting Willie Harris, so he batted second and Edgar Renteria dropped to third.
Then again, Jones' return to the field forced the Braves to sit another of their hot hitters, rookie Yunel Escobar, hitting .306.
``Honestly, the kid deserves to play,'' Jones said. ``He's gotten some big hits, played pretty good third base. He's going to continue to get his at-bats - I don't know where - in the immediate future.''
Manager Bobby Cox wants to keep Escobar in the big leagues, even if he's not a regular starter.
``He's played so great. If somebody needs a day off, he can certainly go in there,'' Cox said. ``We don't want to do the wrong thing and not play him at all. He's a pretty good bat off the bench as well, when he's not playing.''
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