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Chipper eager to return to action

Chipper eager to return to action

PHOENIX -- Chipper Jones feels he'll be completely healthy when he is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday. But Braves manager Bobby Cox might wait a few additional days before putting his veteran third baseman back in the lineup.

"We'll see what happens," Cox said. "I don't know if he'll be able to play right away. He might have to pinch-hit for a few games."

Jones, who has been sidelined since July 23 with a strained left hamstring, gave himself another test while taking batting practice before Thursday night's series opener against the D-backs at Chase Field.

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"I don't feel anything right now," Jones said.

Entering Thursday, Jones led all Major Leaguers with a .369 batting average. His closest competitors for the National League batting title were Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (.350) and Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday (.345).

With the Braves' postseason hopes seemingly dead, chasing a first career batting title will obviously provide Jones some motivation. But the 36-year-old veteran says he won't make the chase his primary motivator.

Last year, Jones battled Holliday for the batting title until the season's final day.

"I try to stay away from that stuff as much as possible," Jones said. "It goes against everything that we try to do in this clubhouse. You just have to do whatever you can to make yourself better and that will help the team."

From a team perspective, Jones says that he and his teammates simply want to improve their current fourth-place standing in the NL East race.

"If you can't finish first, you want to finish second and if you don't finish second, you want to finish third," Jones said. "If you're hitting .300, you want to hit .310 and if you're hitting .310, you want to hit .320. You can always find some way to motivate yourself."

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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