ATLANTA — Braves third baseman Chipper Jones may have played his last game in the major leagues after tearing up his left knee while fielding a ground ball.
The Braves said an MRI exam Thursday revealed that Jones, 38, tore his anterior cruciate ligament and will need surgery. The estimated recovery time is six months, short enough to be ready for opening day — if Jones decides to return in 2011.
He had already said he would consider retirement after the season.
"I'm sure as the next couple of days go by, those are things we'll discuss and he'll discuss with his family," said his agent, BB Abbott. "It's not something he'll decide immediately. He's going to need to hear everything about the injury and rehabilitative process. He'll probably make his decision from there."
Jones was hurt in Tuesday's game at Houston. He fielded a routine grounder by Hunter Pence, jumped in the air while making the throw to first, then collapsed.
Jones feared something was wrong after he walked off the field gingerly under his own power.
"It's hurt," he said in Houston. "I heard a distinct pop."
The Braves were actually hopeful when the knee didn't swell as much as one would expect after an ACL injury. But the MRI showed a partial tear, plus some stretching of the ligament.
"We were cautiously optimistic," general manager Frank Wren said. "When we got the news this morning, I was actually pretty shocked."
The Braves will carry on with Omar Infante and Brooks Conrad sharing third base, though neither has Jones' power.
Jones had bounced back from a slow start and was hitting .265 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs. Coming off a poor 2009 season, Jones had got off to a poor start and said in June that he was considering retirement. A few days later, he backed off and said he would wait until after the season to make a decision. He had been playing much better since then, raising his average some 30 points and showing more power.