Father knows hitting best
News and notes from around the majors leagues, including Chipper Jones' remedy for his early season struggles.
The second-half surge has coincided with one by the Braves, and has made the absurd notion of maintaining his string of eight straight 100-RBI seasons more attainable than laughable. If he gets there, Jones will tie Sammy Sosa for the record of nine-straight, a streak certain to end this season for Sosa. Although Chipper credits and respects all his hitting instructors with Atlanta, he says the only one who was able to reach him in the straight-forward manner of his father was Don Baylor. While many major-league coaches bristle at outside influences, and fathers like John Giambi are careful to keep a low profile, Terry Pendleton invites Larry Sr.'s influence. The goal is to make Chipper more productive. Pendleton and Jones Sr. have been known to breakdown tape and brainstorm together on coaching. Another dual benefit for the Braves and Jones was a recurring hamstring injury that prompted him to request a return to the infield because the dashes in left field kept the injury from ever fully healing. A shortstop coming up in the Braves system, Jones was never comfortable in the outfield, nor with being a defensive liability. The relative inactivity as an outfielder drained his intensity, not an issue back at third base, a position which requires the quickest reflexes of any defensive player. In turn, with Chipper back in the infield, the Braves have their most veteran presence at the heart of mound conferences and defensive huddles. It's helped restore the swagger to the team and his teammates.
Gary Miller is a reporter and play-by-play announcer for ESPN's major league baseball coverage.
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