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Major League Baseball

Chipper will retire if he can't produce

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 09:07 AM
LAKE BUENA VISTA -

An offseason of reflection hasn't softened Chipper Jones' stance.

The Atlanta Braves' third baseman still says he will walk away from the game if he can't bounce back from a disappointing 2009 season. Jones, who will turn 38 in April, said this week he won't hang around just to collect a paycheck if he's no longer playing up to the standards that have made him one of the best switch-hitters in history.

Some scoffed when Jones spoke last year of possible retirement after this season.

Jones signed a three-year, $42 million extension last spring that includes an option for 2013.

Count Atlanta manager Bobby Cox among those who don't believe Jones will walk away from at least two years and $28 million on his contract.

"I never took them to heart at all," Cox said this week of Jones' comments. "He'll play three more years and play them good."

Jones led the National League with his .364 average in 2008 but that fell to .264 last season with 31 fewer hits in almost 50 more at-bats.

He said last year he won't keep playing if he doesn't return to form this season, and he's sticking to that stance.

"It was a true statement," Jones said. "If I don't play this game at the level I want to play it at, then I will walk away from it."

ATHLETICS: Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson arrived at the team's spring training facilities and at least a two dozen A's were listening intently as he spoke about stealing bases, among other subjects.

Oakland manager Bob Geren said Henderson's focus will be on the base paths during his stint as a special spring instructor, but he won't be limited.

CARDINALS: Infielder Felipe Lopez agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract and can make up to $1.2 million in bonuses.

RANGERS: Left-hander Derek Holland threw a lengthy bullpen session, his first work from the mound since he sprained a knee last week.

TIGERS: Third baseman Brandon Inge said he is ahead of schedule in his return from offseason knee surgery, and he expects to be completely healthy by the time the regular season begins.

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