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Notes: Chipper can't avoid injury bug

Notes: Chipper can't avoid injury bug

NEW YORK -- Chipper Jones didn't return to the lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Mets, and the Braves know there's at least a chance they'll be spending the remainder of the season without the services of their veteran third baseman, who strained his right oblique muscle during Monday's batting practice.

"I think it's more than day-to-day," Braves manager Bobby Cox said, when asked if he had an idea of when Jones would be able to return to action.

Instead of talking to reporters on Tuesday, Jones chose to provide an update through Braves media relations assistant Adam Liberman.

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"It's the same as yesterday," Liberman relayed. "It's day-to-day. It's not good enough for me to play."

After Monday's series-opening loss to the Mets, Jones indicated that he was feeling discomfort when he was simply standing straight. This led him to accurately predict that he'd miss Tuesday's game and say that he was just hopeful to return to the lineup later in the week.

But as Jones learned with a strained left oblique muscle that forced him to make two trips to the disabled list during the second half of last season, oblique strains don't disappear overnight. Many of them require multiple weeks of rest, and with just 16 games remaining, there's obviously a chance that Jones won't return to the Braves' lineup this season.

Jones was among the players who said on Sunday that the Braves needed to approach the remainder of the season with the mind-set that they'd need to be perfect for the remainder of the regular season.

With Monday's loss, the Braves fell five games behind the front-running Padres in the National League Wild Card race. Making matters even worse is the fact that five other teams stand between them and the Padres.

"Every out, every play matters," Jones said. "If I can't be out there, it's frustrating."

Minus the hand injuries that caused him to miss nearly a month earlier this season, Jones has proven to be more durable this year than he was in the previous two seasons, when he totaled 219 games. He's played in 118 games this season, and Tuesday marked the first time since coming off the DL on June 13 that he'd missed consecutive games.

Sammons added: When Double-A Mississippi was eliminated from the Southern League playoffs on Monday, Clint Sammons assumed his baseball season was complete. But with the Braves in need of a catcher to replace Corky Miller, who is currently tending to his newborn son, Chase, the team provided Sammons a surprise promotion to the Majors.

"It wasn't something I expected," said Sammons, who hit .243 with five homers and 36 RBIs with Mississippi this season.

Sammons, who played with Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur at Parkview High School in suburban Atlanta, will enter Spring Training in 2008 competing to serve as the backup for another childhood friend, Brian McCann, who was also raised approximately 20 minutes north of downtown Atlanta.

Sammons, who was selected out of the University of Georgia in the fourth round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, retired 48 percent (38-for-79) of the baserunners who attempted to steal against him this year.

Miller's wife, Jenny Lynne, gave birth to Chase on Monday. The proud new father is expected to rejoin the Braves for this weekend's series against the Nationals.

Some kind of record: With Tim Hudson registering each of his first 14 outs via groundouts on Monday night, the Braves infielders were quite busy. Among the busiest of the bunch was second baseman Martin Prado, who registered assists on seven straight outs during a span that began in the second inning and extended through the end of the fourth.

That end of that span came after Moises Alou grounded out to end the fourth. With Alou being a pull hitter, Hudson playfully gave some of his coaches 1000-to-1 odds that the veteran outfielder would send a grounder Prado's way.

"I'm trying to think if I've ever seen that before," Cox said. "It's got to be a record for a second baseman. Maybe a shortstop has had seven straight balls hit to him when somebody like [Greg] Maddux is pitching or something."

What is known is the fact that Prado's 11 assists on Monday were the most by a Braves second baseman in a nine-inning game since Glenn Hubbard registered 12 on April 14, 1985. Rick Mahler and Bruce Sutter combined to register 17 ground-ball outs that day against the Padres.

9/11 anniversary marked: Observing Tuesday's sixth anniversary of 9/11, Mets players wore various caps recognizing many service branches that sacrificed their lives after the World Trade Center was attacked.

Both the Braves and Mets stood alongside the baselines during Tuesday's national anthem.

Braves bits: Still battling a stomach virus, Andruw Jones returned to Tuesday's lineup. ... Triple-A Richmond continued its quest for an International League championship on Tuesday, when it opened Governor's Cup play against the Durham Bulls, Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate. Jeff Bennett, Blaine Boyer and Francisley Bueno are scheduled to start the first three games of this best-of-five series for the Richmond Braves.

Coming up: The Braves will conclude their three-game series against the Mets on Wednesday night at 7:10 ET. They'll send John Smoltz (13-7, 3.02 ERA) to the mound to oppose John Maine (14-9, 3.80).

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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