World Baseball Classic
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Chipper scratched with oblique injury

Team USA's DH pulled from elimination game against Netherlands

MIAMI -- Chipper Jones aggravated his right oblique muscle, and the veteran slugger was scratched from Team USA's lineup on Sunday night.

The announcement came about 70 minutes before the United States faced The Netherlands in an elimination game in the second round of the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium.

Jones left the tournament on Sunday night, and he is returning to Orlando to be evaluated by Braves doctors. Jones initially aggravated his oblique in the first round in Toronto. He is the second Team USA player to return to Spring Training due to injury. On Saturday, Boston's Dustin Pedroia also left the team with a strained left oblique.

Because rosters were set on Saturday, Team USA cannot replace Jones on the roster for the remainder of Round 2. However, if Team USA advances to the semifinals, it can add a third baseman from its provisional roster. Team USA is playing with 27 players, rather than 28. The only position that can be replaced in the middle of a round is catcher.

Risk of injury is the biggest criticism of the Classic.

"I don't know that it wouldn't have happened in Orlando," Jones said when asked about the risk of injury in the Classic. "We're at the point in Spring Training where we're starting to extend the number of at-bats and number of innings that we play in Spring Training. I'm not going to say that it wouldn't have happened in Spring Training.

"I'm not less aggressive than I would have been here. I want to get something out of each at-bat. I think myself and Dustin Pedroia will tell you that this can happen at any point. Dustin did his, doing extra work, which is stuff we do every day. I'm not a big proponent of blasting the WBC because somebody gets hurt."

Jones has been hindered by the oblique since early in the Classic. A switch-hitter who has been batting left-handed of late, Jones was hitless in three at-bats in Saturday's 11-1 loss to Puerto Rico.

The Braves' All-Star third baseman was in the lineup as the designated hitter on Sunday. He was replaced by Derek Jeter, who batted third.

Jones is 0-for-10 in the Classic.

Now, Jones' primary concern is being healthy for Opening Day.

"I hope so, as long as we take care of it now," he said. "And we don't come back too soon and just have it linger. This is one of those things that can linger, especially for a switch-hitter. I'm no good if I'm not at 100 percent."

Jones tweaked the oblique during a round of batting practice on Sunday. It reached the point where there was pain when he tried to extend for pitches. On the inside pitch, he felt fine.

Most of his swings have been from the left side.

"It had a little bit of the lingering effects from Canada," Jones said. "It's worse than it was in Canada."

Saying goodbye to his teammates was tough for Jones.

"They were disappointed as much as I was, and as much as Dustin was [Saturday]," Jones said.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.