Braves to honor Chipper with ceremony Friday

Braves to honor Chipper with ceremony Friday
ATLANTA -- With less than a week's worth of regular-season games remaining in his career, Chipper Jones has found himself taking time to reflect and soak in his final days of playing at the Major League level.

"There was a break in the action [Tuesday] night, and I just kind of looked up into the rafters and just kind of breathed it all in, because I know it's not going to happen too many more times," Jones said. "I just wanted to enjoy it. Just an old man, kind of taking it all in and breathing it all in one last time before I hit the bricks."

The final week should prove to be an eventful and memorable one for Jones, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the champagne celebration that was staged when the Braves clinched a playoff berth with Tuesday night's walk-off win over the Marlins.

Jones' parents will arrive in Atlanta on Thursday to begin gearing up for the festivities that will surround their son's final regular-season series in Atlanta.

"There are a lot of good things happening this week," Jones said. "It's pretty cool to think about."

Before Friday night's series opener against the Mets, the Braves will honor Jones during a special pregame ceremony that is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET. Former Braves manager Bobby Cox, Dale Murphy and Hank Aaron are among the franchise's legendary figures who are scheduled to be in attendance.

The Braves are urging that fans arrive early and plan to be in their seats before 6:55 p.m to enjoy the ceremony. Standing-room only tickets are still being sold for $20 for the game. With an overflow crowd expected, fans are being urged to use MARTA. Parking permits will be necessary for admittance to any of the stadium's parking lots.

"There are a lot of people coming from all over the country this last week to watch me play and say goodbye," Jones said. "I want to be out there. How much I'm out there, where we sit in the standings will have a lot to do with that. But I plan on starting every game."

Jones admits that it might be difficult from a physical perspective for him to stick with his plan to start each of the remaining games of his final homestand. His primary motivation is to satisfy the fans who want to watch him play. At the same time, he remains hopeful that the Braves could erase the four-game deficit that separates them from the first-place Nationals in the National League East race.

The Braves clinched at least a Wild Card on Tuesday. If they experience the miraculous finish that would be necessary to win the division, they would not be subjected to the one-game playoff that the Wild Card entrants will play to determine who advances to the NL Division Series.

"My message to everybody [on Tuesday night] was, 'Hey, have fun with it tonight, but realize we've got more work to do and stay focused on that until we get to the Nationals or they close us out,'" Jones said. "Whichever one it is, we're going to bust our humps to get there."

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez attended Wednesday night's game to catch a final glimpse of Jones. Former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady did the same on Tuesday night.

A couple of Jones' friends -- country music stars Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean -- are expected to be in attendance for Sunday's game against the Mets.

"I'm excited about the next week-plus, and I remain focused on the team's goals," Jones said. "That's my main focus when I'm out there playing. I want so much for these guys to experience what playoff-type adrenaline and that atmosphere is all about."