I caught up with Chipper Jones about a week and a half ago in the Braves clubhouse. He was in the middle of rehabbing some of his nagging injuries and in between being interviewed by several other reporters. He was extremely gracious with his time and answered all my questions very honestly. There is one particular question I think he answered with a bit of slam at Jimmy Rollins, if you know what Jimmy said several weeks ago you should be able to figure out which question I'm talking about - that's classic Chipper.
Martin Gandy: So how's your spring going?
Chipper Jones: Great.
MG: Injuries aside, how are things progressing?
CJ: About normal. I've got to get this oblique healthy before I can get back in there.
MG: How do you handle the little nagging injuries one after another?
CJ: Not well. It's wearing on me. I've played the game so long without getting hurt, and now I'm running into a rash of injuries that I can't control and it's hindering me from playing the game - that's what's frustrating.
MG: How was your off-season? Did you work on anything?
CJ: I took a lot of time off this off-season. My feet have been a constant concern and my oblique was a big problem for me last year so I wanted to make sure that those got behind me before I started working out. I thought they were but I guess their not.
MG: What's the team chemistry like without Giles and LaRoche around?
CJ: We're all going to miss those guys, but the business of baseball goes on. Chemistry is going to be fine. The Braves aren't going to bring anybody in who's not a good guy to have in the clubhouse.
MG: What's the attitude of the club coming off a non-division winning season?
CJ: There's a little extra motivation this year to kind of get back to prominence; to get back to where we need to be. Last year was just a fluke year - we won 79 games, we blew 29 saves, but we played well enough win 100 ballgames which would have definitely gotten us into the playoffs. We've addressed the bullpen issue, that's why I refuse to understand why people don't consider us to be a factor in this division.
MG: So do you think the Braves are the team to beat in this division?
CJ: I will never disrespect the other teams in our division by saying that; by guaranteeing some kind of division title or anything like that - that's stupidity. I think we will be a force to be reckoned with in the East.
MG: How much do you pay attention to the off-season moves?
CJ: Quite a bit. It's a point of interest, so obviously I want to see if we're active in the free agent market or active on the trade market. I always want to improve our ball club anyway we can, and I think we did that.
MG: Have you set any personal goals for yourself this season?
CJ: 150 games!
MG: What player on this team do you think will surprise us this year?
CJ: Martin Prado. He's a versatile guy; he can play all over the place. He's really coming into his own and learning how to handle the bat. Just realizing he belongs here. He's a guy that's kind of flown under the radar up to this point, but not under Bobby's radar.
MG: Thanks a lot Chipper.