- Associated Press - Saturday, March 24, 2012

DUNEDIN, FLA. (AP) - Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones will miss the start of his farewell season.

Two days after Jones announced this will be his final year, Braves general manager Frank Wren said Saturday that Jones will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus in his left knee.

The procedure is scheduled to be performed Monday. The 39-year-old Jones will open the season on the disabled list, but the team expects him to miss only the first six games. Wren said Jones should return in time for the April 13 home opener.

Martin Prado, normally the team’s starting left fielder, will move to the infield until Jones returns. Wren said he’s not looking to make a trade for help at third base or in the outfield.

Jones missed two weeks last season after having arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. This is just the latest in a string of injuries that persuaded him to retire after one more season. He turns 40 next month.

With Prado starting the season at third, the Braves could turn to Matt Diaz or Eric Hinske in left field. Jones‘ injury also could create an opportunity for Jose Constanza or Jordan Parraz.

Jones, who has spent his entire 18-year career with Atlanta, actually planned to retire after the 2010 season, only to change his mind. As he battled leg issues this spring, he openly wondered if he’d be able to make it through the season.

“I have fulfilled everything,” Jones said Thursday during a news conference at the team’s spring training stadium in Kissimmee, flanked by his family and teammates. “There’s nothing left for me to do.”

Jones won the NL MVP award in 1999, captured the league batting title in 2008 and is a seven-time All-Star. No matter what happens in his final season, he will go down as one of the game’s greatest switch-hitters, a player who could hit for average (.304 in his career) and power (454 homers and 1,561 RBIs).


Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and Charles Odum at www.twitter.com/CharlesOdum

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