Feb. 25, 2021 –
BY KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – One of the constants surrounding the Braves over the last few years has been the coaching staff. Whether it’s Ron Washington working with the infielders, Eric Young Sr. assisting in the positioning of the outfielders, or Rick Kranitz taking a relatively young and inexperienced staff under his wing on the mound, manager Brian Snitker has repeatedly praised the hard work and dedication his coaching staff puts towards their job on a daily basis. That staff increased by one Hall of Famer this year, as Chipper Jones returned to the uniform, nine seasons removed from his final year of 2012 as an assistant hitting coach. Anytime number ten would come through Turner Field, Truist Park or even Spring Training, he was always talking hitting. Often times, he could be found sitting on a bucket near the cage on a back field, happy to help anyone who may look to him for some pointers. One of those youngsters is Austin Riley, who vividly recalled the first time he saw Chipper taking notice of him on a back field a few years ago.
Think about the impact that can have on a young player. A first ballot Hall of Famer, taking time to come watch you hit and give you advice about what he sees. This is the first time Chipper is back in uniform in an official capacity…his other previous stints were as Guest Instructors during camp. But Riley said on Thursday he really thinks Jones is happy to put the uniform back on. “He’s bouncing around…it seems like he’s everywhere. I definitely think he’s enjoying the atmosphere” Riley said following Thursday’s workouts. And why shouldn’t he be having fun? He gets to work with one of his best friends in Freddie Freeman, young studs like Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley, and veterans who are coming off monster 2020 seasons like Marcell Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud.
Will this lead to a more full-time position down the road for Chipper? He’s repeatedly said that he’s happy being home with the family, and lived out of a suitcase for over two decades. But this could certainly light the fire for a more permanent role down the line. Chipper’s the definition of a baseball lifer. And the Braves organization is lucky to call him their own.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.