Today on MLB Network Radio on SIRIUS XM, hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern spoke with former Atlanta Braves outfielder Brian Jordan, who commented on the health of his former teammate, current Braves third baseman Chipper Jones:
Host/Casey Stern: "Brian, we're talking about tough guys a lot today, and you played with, and you know, Chipper is still here. He always seems like he's always battling through injury. I don't even know if on an off-season he's ever 100 percent. The guy always has something that's wrong. ... What's the story though? I know he hasn't gotten off to a good start, and as you can imagine, most Braves fans sit there and they wonder, Is Chipper done?"
Brian Jordan: "Well, I mean, he leaves you scratching your head because, you know, it's been a problem, especially his obliques the last couple years, and I think he just doesn't think he's aging. (laughs) As you get older, you've got to work out a little harder to prevent injury and I'm not sure if he's really dedicating himself, his body, to doing that because I was really surprised to see that oblique injury pop up so early this season. Because he said he worked out, he got himself in better shape but, you know, I know the fans, I know myself, you know, we're all scratching our heads and we're just crossing our fingers that he can stay healthy. And I think [Jason] Heyward is taking some of the pressure off that he can relax and know that he doesn't have to put the team on his shoulder and he can just go out there and play. So it's just one of those things where, you know, you just scratch your head."
Host/Jim Bowden: "So, Brian, you think that he's getting hurt because he's not working out hard enough and staying in shape at his age?"
Jordan: "Uh, you know what, I really believe so. I think at some point when you start getting older, you really have to do the extra things. You've got to get in that whirlpool, you've got to stretch, and really work hard to keep your flexibility before you get out there on the field. And I'm not sure if he's dedicating himself to doing that. He's so used to - you know, I played with him so long - just sitting around and waiting for the game, and take a couple jogs and go play. But as you get older, you know, you cannot do that. You've gotta go the extra mile to be ready to play."
Those are some pretty harsh words, accusing Chipper of not working hard enough. I know Jordan is around the team a lot, but is he around Chipper all the time? Does he know his daily routine? Jordan may be on to something, but I wish he was speaking a bit more authoritatively and acting more informed rather than just guessing without any indication that he actually knows Chipper is not working out enough, or not working hard enough.
I don't really like the tone that Jordan sets, but I do appreciate that he is now, as a member of the media, actually sharing his honest opinion about the team, and in this instance a particular player. It must be hard for an ex-teammate like Jordan to go from the clubhouse where everyone is supposed to have each others' backs, to the media side of the game where reporters are supposed to seek answers and ask the tough questions.
The Braves have often insulated themselves from this by controlling who is hired to be on-air talent for the game broadcasts. They have further insulated themselves by hiring their former players, who are less likely to criticize the team when criticism is deserved. It will be interesting to see if Chipper gets wind of these comments and how this plays out off the field.