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Chipper limps back into lineup

Chipper limps back into lineup

CHICAGO -- If he didn't feel like his team's season was crumbling into a disastrous mess, Chipper Jones might have waited at least another day to test his strained right quadriceps muscle.

But with the Braves' starting rotation wrecked with injuries and his team still struggling to find even some form of respectability on the road, Jones returned to the lineup for Wednesday night's game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"I'm sore, but I've got to go," said Jones, who entered Wednesday leading the Majors with a .420 batting average and 92 hits.

Even before Tom Glavine exited Tuesday night's series-opening loss to the Cubs with an elbow injury that has forced him to the disabled list, Jones planned on returning to Wednesday's lineup.

But the 36-year-old veteran third baseman returned, knowing that he wouldn't be able to sprint and not knowing if he'd be able to quickly lunge to either side or charge toward the plate to field a bunt.

"We can't guess any longer," said Jones, who suffered the strain while running toward first base in the seventh inning of Saturday's loss to the Phillies. "It's time to go."

Jones, who singled in his first at-bat on Wednesday, admitted that there will be some times when he hits grounders and chooses not to sprint toward first base.

"People are going to have to realize that I'm not dogging it," Jones said. "I'm just trying to stay in the game."

Other than by putting on their new alternate blue jerseys, the only way the Braves have more easily guaranteed a loss is by creating a lineup that doesn't include Jones. Entering Wednesday, they had lost each of the seven games that he hadn't started.

Before donning the blue jerseys yet again on Wednesday night, the Braves had won just two of the previous 11 games they'd played while wearing them. One of those wins came in a game when Peter Moylan blew out his right elbow and was lost for the season.

As for Glavine, both of the games he's exited on the way to the disabled list have been ones during which the alternate jerseys were worn. And Smoltz's final start came while wearing the alternate blue.

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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