Chipper will start year on DL after knee surgery

Chipper will start year on DL after knee surgery

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Chipper Jones will begin the final season of his career on the disabled list because of an injury he suffered just before announcing he will retire at the end of this year. The Braves third baseman will undergo surgery on Monday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. 

Jones hopes to return in time for what will be his final home opener at Turner Field on April 13. His confidence is strengthened by the fact that he needed just a little more than two weeks to return after this same surgical procedure was performed on his right knee just before last year's All-Star break.

"Historically Chipper has taken 16-18 days to get back from these injuries," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "So the thought is that he could very well be ready for the home opener. That's kind of a best-case scenario. But it should be on or around the home opener."

Jones' disabled list transaction will be backdated through the final nine days of Spring Training. So if he is ready to return for the home opener, he will eligible for activation after missing just the first six games of the regular season.

Jones, who will turn 40 on April 24, announced he would retire at the end of this year during a Thursday morning press conference that was staged a little more than an hour after he hurt his left knee while running in the outfield.  

"Fredi [Gonzalez] and I were talking, preparing for the press conference and he had one of the guys come out to get Fredi to let him know that he thought he had just injured his knee," Wren said. "He didn't feel right. So he wanted to see how it responded for a day and then have the MRI. It's a strange coincidence." Braves orthopedist Dr. Marvin Royster determined surgery was necessary after viewing an MRI and evaluating Jones on Saturday morning. The surgical procedure scheduled for Monday in Atlanta will be the sixth that Royster has performed on the third baseman's knee.

This will be the third knee surgery performed on Jones within a span of 20 months. Along with having the meniscus repaired in his right knee in July, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Aug. 10, 2010.

Before Jones suffered this latest knee injury, the Braves were planning to provide him regular opportunities to rest this upcoming season.

"We knew we were going to have to be careful and be intentional about off-days, either before or after a scheduled off-day to give him more time," Wren said. "Our goal is to keep him healthy and strong and performing at a high level."

With the possibility that Jones will miss approximately a week's worth of games, Wren said he will not feel pressured to make a move. But he said he had already been looking at the possibility of adding an outfielder to provide insurance in the event that Martin Prado is forced to vacate left field and play third base for an extended stretch.

While Prado handles the third base duties, the current plan is for Matt Diaz and Eric Hinske to platoon in left field.

"We're talking six games," Wren said. "We've been planning all along that we'd like to have some backup for the eventuality of days when Martin has to come in and play third [base]. We'll just look and see how we configure our club. We'll continue to look at that as we go through the final 10 days of Spring Training."

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