KISSIMMEE, Fla. — For Chipper Jones, it was all rather routine. And for him, that was a good thing.
Jones played third base for the first time since injuring his knee last August, and the perennial All-Star was flawless in the field Thursday as the Atlanta Braves beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3.
Jones handled a grounder by Magglio Ordonez and threw him out, and also caught a popup in four innings.
"I just want to play," Jones said. "Once you get on the field instinct takes over. That's what you need to worry about. I wasn't expecting to be playing by now and I don't know what to expect."
Jones tore his left knee while making a play against Houston and missed the Braves' playoff run. While some people thought he might be finished, Jones vowed he would do all the hard rehabilitation work needed to play again.
Jones opened this spring as a designated hitter, but returned to his familiar spot against the Tigers.
Jones also singled and scored a run on a single by Freddie Freeman before leaving early, as regulars usually do in spring training.
In Sunday's win over the New York Mets, Jones barreled into second base to break up a double play.
"As soon as I slid I was just hoping I could get back up," Jones said this week. "I might not be what I was and I might not be able to take the extra base, but I am ready for another season."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Jones would be day-to-day. The Braves are playing split-squad games on Friday.
Max Scherzer allowed one hit in three scoreless innings for the Tigers.
"He's looking real good this spring," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I like him a lot. I am not worried about Max Scherzer."
Braves starter Jair Jurrjens said he's working on some new things this spring and doesn't mind getting roughed up a little bit as long as he's ready for April. The Atlanta starter went three innings and wasn't sharp, allowing three hits, including a long homer by Brennan Boesch.
Matt Young increased his chances of making the Braves' roster with a game-ending single with two outs in the ninth inning. He boosted his spring average to .333 and Gonzalez said Young is in the mix for one of Atlanta's outfield spots.
NOTES: Tigers star Miguel Cabrera was hitless in three at-bats. He's 1-for-12 this spring. ... The Braves reached contract agreements with RHPs Tommy Hanson and Chrishian Martinez and INF Diory Hernandez, so their entire 40-man roster is signed for the 2011 season. . .. Atlanta OF Jason Heyward missed another game with tightness in his left groin. Gonzalez said he would likely play on Friday.
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