Sunday, September 9, 2012
Mets praise Chipper as Brave exits Flushing
By Adam Rubin
The Mets, like their fans, were gracious regarding Chipper Jones' final plate appearance in Queens -- a four-pitch, pinch-hit walk in the ninth inning against Frank Francisco that did not factor into the decision.
Jones received ovations as stepped into the batter's box to pinch hit, then again when he returned to the dugout after walking and being replaced by a pinch runner.
"Whatever those fans do, he deserves it," Francisco said after Atlanta's 3-2, 10-inning win. "He's been in the game for a long time. He's a great player. I bet wherever he goes, he's probably going to get the same reaction from fans. He's one of the best out there on the field. It doesn't bother me. I think he deserves it."
Said David Wright, who ended up making the game's final out: "As much as the fans like to get on him over the years, I think they respect his body of work and respect his career and the way he's carried himself. And what he's been able to do on the field is obviously a nice cap to a Hall of Fame career.
"You think of Chipper Jones, you think of the Braves. Growing up, I had TBS just like everybody else. Braves games were always on. I think that it goes hand in hand. You think of Chipper Jones, you think of the Atlanta Braves. I think he's represented the organization tremendously. I think the next stop will hopefully be the Hall of Fame."
Francisco acknowledged being cautious against Jones with one out and the bases empty with the score tied at 2 in the top of the ninth.
"I didn't pitch around him, but I didn't want to leave anything right there," Francisco said. "Even 3-0 I threw a split, because I know he was ready to swing 3-0. I could see it."
Jones was sent out pregame to exchange lineup cards with Terry Collins.
"He came to home plate and I just said, 'Hey, it's been an absolute pleasure.' And he said, 'Well, it's been a blast playing here,'" Collins said. "He certainly is one of the great pros. Certainly we get to see him one more time, obviously, down in Atlanta. But people the last 19 years have witnessed one of the true professionals in the game and a guy that is going to finish his career and in five years from now make a big speech, because he for sure is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and certainly deserving of it all."
Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution postgame: "Usually if we've lost two or three in a row, [Fredi Gonzalez] will come up to me and ask me to take the lineup card out. I've done it a handful of times this year. It seemed fitting today. Nice reception, especially right over the top of our dugout walking off the field. So that was nice."
Said Wright: "The numbers speak for themselves. The times I've played against him, the few times I've played with him (All-Star Games and the World Baseball Classic), he's treated me great. He's killed us so much on the field, but away from the field he's all class. And the times I got a chance to be around him, I tried to soak in as much as I could and learn from him. Especially as a younger player, when I first came up, I watched him very closely playing against him. Getting a chance to be in that dugout, I watched his moves and tried to take a little bit away from his game."