Braves’ Jones retiring after this season
It’s time to call it a career.
This time, he means it.
With his 40th birthday approaching and a long string of injuries slowing him down, Jones announced Thursday he will retire after one more season as the Atlanta Braves’ third baseman.
“I have fulfilled everything,” Jones said during a news conference at the team’s spring training stadium in Kissimmee, Fla. “There’s nothing left for me to do.”
Jones, who has spent his entire 18-year career with Atlanta, actually planned to retire after the 2010 season, only to change his mind. As he battled leg issues this spring, he openly wondered if he’d be able to make it through the season.
So, he’ll give it one more year with the Braves, then become a full-time dad to his three children.
“I just want to make it final,” Jones said.
He praised the Braves organization, calling Bobby Cox “the greatest manager any of us will ever know,” thanked team executives John Schuerholz and Frank Wren for building a perennial winner and fought back tears as he turned to his teammates.
“I’ve been thinking about this and the reason I stayed around is you guys,” Jones said. “I played on teams where clubhouse cohesion wasn’t there. That never happened with you guys.”
Around baseball, Jones was praised for this long, consistent career, which included the NL MVP award in 1999, an NL batting title in 2008, seven All-Star games—and, quite possibly, will include an induction ceremony at Cooperstown.
He should be a first-ballot selection, according to Cox, who attended the news conference with the only other manager Jones will have in his big league career, current Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez.
Schuerholz, the former general manager and now team president, and Wren are the only GMs of the Jones era. Stability meant a lot to the third baseman, who never seriously considered leaving the Braves.
No matter what happens in his final season, Jones will go down as one of the game’s greatest switch-hitters, a guy who could hit for average (.304 in his career) and power (454 homers and 1,561 RBIs).
Shortly after reporting for what will be his final spring training, Jones marveled that he was still with the Braves with his milestone birthday coming up in April.
“Never in my mid-20s would I have given myself a snowball’s chance to be in camp and have a job at 40 years old,” Jones said. “But I like to think I’ve kept myself in pretty good shape over the years. The skills are still there to go out and get it done. I don’t know for how much longer, but we’re going to ride it as long as we can.”
That ride lasts one more season.