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Chipper gets chance to see Kauffman Stadium

By Dave Skretta

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, July 10 2012 12:02 a.m. MDT

National League's David Wright, right, of the New York Mets, talks to Mets manager Terry Collins during MLB All-Star baseball batting practice, Monday, July 9, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chipper Jones has played in just about every major league ballpark during nearly two decades of service to the Atlanta Braves. The eight-time All-Star even outlasted a handful of them, such as the old Yankee Stadium.

He'd never stepped foot in Kauffman Stadium until Monday afternoon.

The Braves keep missing visits to Kansas City during interleague play, one of the strange quirks in the schedule. The 40-year-old third baseman has already announced his intention to retire after this season, so this is his chance.

"To be able to say I've played in each and every ballpark, it's not something every player gets to do," Jones said before an afternoon batting practice. "Fortunately, we're having the All-Star game here, otherwise I wouldn't have that opportunity."

Jones has certainly had a season worthy of being an All-Star.

He's hitting .318 with six homers and 33 RBIs in 49 games, putting him on pace for his best season since 2008, when he led the league with a .368 batting average.

"It's amazing, you know, to play in the league as long as he has and never been to Kansas City. What a way to come here, to make the All-Star team in his final season," said Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, who is making his second All-Star game appearance.

"It's awesome just to watch him play this year, to see the things he's doing."

Royals manager Ned Yost, who is helping to coach the American League team, was on the staff of the Braves when Jones made his debut as a 21-year-old in 1993. He only played in eight games that season, but even then, Yost had a feeling he was destined for greatness.

"You knew this kid was going to be a Hall of Famer," Yost said. "I mean, he was just that talented — switch hitter, young, athletic, tremendous player."

Jones' prodigious talent carried him to plenty of All-Star games, but there a couple that stood out. One of them was in 2000, when he was the hometown guy playing in Atlanta, and went 3 for 3 with a homer. The other was his first All-Star game, in 1996, at long-gone Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, though not so much for anything he did on the field.

MR. OCTOBER TOLD TO STAY AWAY FROM YANKEES: The New York Yankees have told Mr. October to stay away this summer.

The Yankees want Reggie Jackson to steer clear of the clubhouse and team events following his pointed remarks about Alex Rodriguez and several former stars, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Monday.

The Hall of Famer will lay low for several weeks, the person told the AP on condition of anonymity because there was no formal announcement. Jackson was not disciplined or fined, and will remain as a special adviser to the Yankees.

ESPN initially reported Jackson would be indefinitely absent from the Yankees.

Jackson recently was quoted by Sports Illustrated as saying some of Rodriguez's statistics were tainted because the Yankees slugger had admitted using performance-enhancing drugs. Jackson has spoken to Rodriguez since then to explain his comments.

Jackson also said he didn't see Gary Carter, Kirby Puckett and others as Hall of Famers.

The MVP of the 1977 World Series with the Yankees was told not to travel to Boston last weekend for New York's four-game series at Fenway Park to avoid becoming a distraction. The Yankees will contact Jackson when they want him back on the scene, the person said.

BRAVES' SHORTSTOP SIDELINED: The Atlanta Braves say rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons will miss at least a month with a broken right little finger.

Simmons hurt his finger on a head-first slide in Sunday's game at Philadelphia.

The Braves say an examination with Dr. Gary Lourie on Monday confirmed the injury and Simmons will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Simmons' hand will be in a cast for four weeks. His status will be updated after the cast is removed.

KANSAS CITY CONNECTIONS: The Royals could have had quite the outfield: Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals and Melky Cabrera of the Giants have all passed through Kansas City during their playing careers.

All of them are starting in the All-Star game tonight.

National League manager Tony La Russa got his playing start as an 18-year-old with Kansas City in 1963, back when the franchise was the Athletics.

American League manager Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers also has ties to Kansas City. He started off in the Royals' baseball academy, which operated from 1971-75.

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