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Prado warmly embraced in return to Atlanta

Prado warmly embraced in return to Atlanta

Prado warmly embraced in return to Atlanta

ATLANTA -- If Martin Prado did not fully understand how beloved he was during his days with the Braves, he certainly got a sense on Friday night, when he played his first game back in Atlanta since being traded to the D-backs in January.

As Chipper Jones addressed a sold-out crowd moments after his No. 10 jersey was officially retired, he looked toward the D-backs' dugout and once again recognized Prado as one of the best teammates he ever had. Prado received a loud ovation when he stepped out of the visitors' dugout and tipped his cap in appreciation.

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Prado and Jones shared a hug after the ceremony as Jones was being paraded around the field on the back of a car.

"The day he got traded, I told him if I'm ever a manager or a general manager, I'm coming after him, because he's the guy that helps you win 95 or 100 ballgames because of his versatility and because he plays [many positions] at an All-Star level," Jones said. "He's one of the best two-strike hitters in the game and he's intense. He has fire in his belly. He makes guys around him better."

Braves fans grew to love Prado as he displayed a blue collar and selfless approach while playing for Atlanta from 2006-12. They showed their appreciation by providing him a standing ovation before his first plate appearance on Friday night.

"I was a little concerned about how people were going to react," Prado said. "But it was great. It was something that was very special to me. They showed a lot of emotions and a lot of respect for me. I don't know how to explain it. I was just so emotional. ... I had a couple tears, but I got my eye black, so nobody could see that."

As Prado stepped out of the batter's box to acknowledge the fans, he tipped his batting helmet and then dropped it.

"That was part of the act," Prado said. "I already practiced that for three months."

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

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