The former third baseman retired last year with 468 home runs and a .303 average over 19 seasons as a Brave. But he has only modest expectations about improving his golf game.
DAN PATRICK:Did you actually hear from the Yankees about coming out of retirement?
CHIPPER JONES: Personally, I did not. My agent did.
DP:How many teams have contacted you or your agent?
CJ: I've been contacted by three teams. My agent has heard from a few more than that.
DP:The Yankees and who else?
CJ: I can't tell you that. The Yankees are the only one that's common knowledge.
DP:Could you play this season?
CJ: From a skill-set standpoint, yes. From an ability to walk my crippled butt out there night in and night out, I seriously doubt it.
DP:Is it the mental or physical fatigue?
CJ: When you're in your 20s, it's mental. As you get older, you learn to pace yourself. Then it becomes a challenge physically.
DP:Playing in your era, did you escape suspicion for taking PEDs?
CJ: The first prerequisite is not to do it. I also played in a slow media market. I don't think my size and shape have changed that much since I came up.
DP:How much pressure was there to try PEDs?
CJ: If somebody's playing the same position you do and there's suspicion on them and they're winning Silver Sluggers and MVPs ... the pressure is there. But in the end you fall back on the values that your parents instilled in you. I wouldn't have been able to look my father in the face.
DP:How do you view Alex Rodriguez's career?
CJ: I'm disappointed. A-Rod is a great friend of mine. He could be looked at as a Cal Ripken--type—an ambassador for the game. But once you have that stigma, it's pretty much over.
DP:Do you play golf now with John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux?
CJ: I don't like to. They're too good. I need to be out there with a 14- or 15-handicapper. You play with those guys, it's like stepping into a poker game with five millionaires.
DP:Did veterans give you a hard time when you came up?
CJ: Oh, yes. I was a lot different then. I was really brash and cocky. Everybody wanted to put me in my place. If they could get me on the golf course or the poker table and school me, they certainly took the opportunity.
DP:Which of those pitchers did you miss the most?
CJ: Probably Doggy [Maddux], even though that man is probably the grossest human being ever put on this planet. But he entertained me. Glavine was the most mature of the three. Smoltzy and I have had our disagreements, but we're still great friends.
DP:To make sure teams leave you alone, why don't you Tweet a picture with your shirt off?
CJ: I'm looking at it in the mirror right now. It looks pretty good. I could probably get it where it needs to be in a couple of weeks.
DP:If you have someone mistake you for John Daly, then you know a return is out of the question.
CJ: I will shoot myself if that happens.
"The problem is there's not a full commitment inside the players' heads. They look at it as more of an exhibition. You have to prepare differently in the off-season, so if you're a pitcher and you have to reach back for some extra in March, you have to be sure you're not going to blow out.
—CAL RIPKEN JR., after the U.S. was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic
Wayne Gretzky would like to see a return to wooden sticks instead of today's composite models. "They don't have the same feel with the blade and the puck that we had," Gretzky told me. "[Sidney] Crosby with a wooden stick—I don't think anybody would get the puck from him." ... NFL prospect Geno Smith wants to dispel notions he can't run a read-option offense because he rushed for only 151 yards last season. "I wasn't asked to do it," the former West Virginia QB said. "I wasn't going to go outside the system." ... The NBA issued a statement that the refs missed Dahntay Jones's foul on Kobe Bryant at the end of the Hawks' March 13 win over the Lakers. I asked Jones whether, if the roles were reversed, the league or media would care. Said Jones, "I don't think we would be dealing with this at all if it wasn't Kobe." ... Former Georgetown star Patrick Ewing reflected on the glory days of the Big East and the Hoyas' place in history. "We were the Raiders of basketball," Ewing said. "We were the team everybody hated. We should have worn black uniforms and [eye black]."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY FOR SI (PATRICK)
DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP (CHIPPER JONES)
AL TIELEMANS/SI (EWING)
GREG NELSON FOR SI (DAHNTAY JONES)
KEVIN JAIRAJ/US PRESSWIRE (SMITH)
ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES FOR SPORTS SPECTACULAR (GRETZKY)