The brief public spat between Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones and pitcher John Smoltz is over after skipper Bobby Cox stepped in to mediate.
Braves manager Bobby Cox arranged and attended a meeting between John Smoltz and Chipper Jones on Sunday, one day after Jones accused the pitcher of questioning his integrity.
Jones said hitting coach Terry Pendleton also attended the meeting, and Jones said he apologized to Smoltz. “Obviously there was a misunderstanding,” Jones told The Associated Press on Sunday. “I apologized to him for my comments in yesterday’s interviews. He assured me he wasn’t singling me out. That was it.”
On Sunday, Smoltz called the incident a “total misunderstanding.” “It’s over with and there won’t be a problem the rest of the time we’re teammates,” Smoltz said. He did not answer any questions.
After Sunday’s meeting, Cox struck a characteristically positive tone. “Everything is as good as it can be,” Cox said. “Chipper thought he was singled out or something and John had no intention of doing that at all. It fact it was just the opposite. He was trying to tell the fans how important it is we have Chipper out there because Chipper plays when he’s hurt.”
Said general manager John Schuerholz: “It’s done. It’s finished and onward we go.”
Smoltz’s comments, and Jones’ response Saturday, were notable in an Atlanta clubhouse that under Cox’s watch has consistently kept such problems out of the public eye. “I think we’re both a little embarrassed that it got outside this clubhouse,” Jones said. “It shouldn’t have. I should have squashed it yesterday. Even if I did think it was directed at me, which yesterday obviously I did, I still shouldn’t have discussed that with you guys. It wasn’t a good example to set forth by either one of us.”
Jones said he should have approached Smoltz on Saturday. “I’m apologizing for my actions, regardless of how many people misinterpreted what he said or what he insinuated,” Jones said. “I should have squashed it right there by going to him and saying ‘Look are you talking about me? If you were, let’s handle this now.’ Instead of assuming what he was saying and firing back through the media.”
Jones acknowledged Smoltz touched a tender nerve because of his numerous injuries in recent years. “If you question whether somebody is hurt, you’re questioning their heart, their integrity, their dignity,” Jones said. “I can assure you that at no time in my career have I missed a game when I felt I could go out there and do a better job than anybody else on the team. It’s hard for me to sit out of games. It’s not an easy process. I fight like crazy to be in there and Bobby has to sit me down and say ‘Look we’re in this for the longer haul.’ ”
Jones said Smoltz did not apologize in the meeting but said the two shook hands. “Our friendship will be fine,” Jones said. “We’ve had disagreements before. We’ve been through riffs before. He and I have not seen eye to eye on things before. We get over it. If I hit a home run to win one of his games, he will love me.”
I can’t imagine that Smoltzie though Chipper was dogging it but it’s not unreasonable that he took it that way. My guess is that Chipper is just a little sensitive about the subject. Probably any high level competitor feels a little guilty and that he’s letting his teammates down when he can’t play.
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