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Chipper Jones, who is attempting to play in more than 110 games for the first time since 2004, strained his oblique muscle on Friday while taking BP.

Mike HamptonIt’s unclear how much time Jones will miss, but manager Bobby Cox isn’t going to rush him. From the AJC:

“I want to make sure it doesn’t hurt,” Cox said. “If I have to, I’ll wait the rest of Spring [Training].”

Jones may want to talk to Braves pitcher Mike Hampton about the best way to recover from a strained oblique. Hampton, who is attempting to return to the Braves’ rotation after sitting out last season while recovering from shoulder surgery, experienced a setback when he strained his oblique muscle March 7. But Hampton surprised Cox and spring training spectators by throwing in the outfield yesterday — nearly three weeks ahead of schedule.

Cox was surprised, to say the least.

“I was amazed, totally shocked,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who didn’t know until Saturday that Hampton was feeling so good he wanted to test his side by throwing.

What made Hampton decide he was ready to start throwing again so early?

By the middle of last week, he noticed no pain while working out on an elliptical machine. He got off the machine and slowly went through his pitching delivery without a baseball. No pain.

“Then I picked up a weighted ball and did it again, and I didn’t feel anything,” he said. “I thought, ‘Dude, I might be able to throw.’ “

So should Chipper get on the Hampton rehab program? Maybe not. Hampton attributes his quick recovery to luck, more than hard work or any medical breakthroughs. Hampton said it was better that he pulled his left side than his right. He throws left-handed but bats right-handed, and righty hitters typically pull the left oblique when they get hurt swinging.

If Hampton stays out of the batting cages for a while, he should be okay. And even though Hampton is arguably the best hitting pitcher in the league, the Braves will be happy to send him up to the plate to bunt as long as he’s able to take the mound.

Chipper, unfortunately, can’t pitch. So he’s going to need to sit out until he’s able to swing without pain.

If you’re getting the feeling that the Braves’ season is going to include a lot of injury updates, you’re not the only one.

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