Braves’ Jones to miss his final home opener

April 13, 2012, 9:59 PM

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATLANTA — Chipper Jones was really looking forward to playing in his final home opener for the Atlanta Braves.

Then his troublesome left knee flared up again.

Jones was scratched from the lineup shortly before batting practice Friday so he could have fluid drained from his knee, which already required arthroscopic surgery in spring training and forced him to start the season on the disabled list.

"I really didn’t want to miss this one," said the 39-year-old third baseman, who has already announced he’ll retire after this season.

Jones missed Atlanta’s first four games, all losses, then returned Tuesday night in Houston — slightly ahead of schedule. He homered in his first game back, and the Braves won their final two games against the Astros.

But the knee swelled up on the flight back to Atlanta. Jones had hoped it would be OK after an off day, but there was still too much fluid on the knee to allow him to play against the Milwaukee Brewers. Martin Prado moved to third base, with Matt Diaz taking over in left field.

Jones wasn’t sure if he would be able to play Saturday, either.

"I knew there were going to be times I would wake up and not be able to go," he said. "But I had no idea it would happen this quick."

He was clearly perturbed about missing his last opening night at Turner Field, though Jones has tried to downplay the significance of his pending retirement, at least in the early days of the season.

"My body has got a lot of mileage, a lot of games, a lot of innings on it," he said. "This is one of the byproducts of that. It (stinks). I’ve really been looking forward to April 13. I’ve really been looking forward to it for quite some time."

Persistent knee problems were a major reason Jones decided to make this his final season. He has had three surgical procedures on each knee, including two major operations. He turns 40 on April 24.

"I know how debilitating knee injuries can be," Jones said. "That’s the whole basis for who we are as players. Our legs get us from point A to point B. They allow us to hit for power, to hit the other way, to move around on defence, to steal bases."

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