For anybody who thought new Braves third baseman Chris Johnson might shy away from playing in the shadow of Chipper Jones, the idea is not exactly new to him.
Johnson played at Stetson University for Pete Dunn, Jones’ godfather.
“In Pete Dunn’s eyes, if you wanted to be anybody, try to be Chipper Jones,” Johnson said.
Johnson got to know Chipper’s father, Larry Wayne Jones Sr., who had been a volunteer coach at Stetson but still came around. He also knows Chipper, who is a regular at Stetson events.
Chipper Jones was one of the first to welcome Johnson to the Braves’ fold after Johnson and Justin Upton were traded to the Braves last month in a seven-player deal with Arizona, contacting him both on Twitter and in text messages.
So it didn’t seem all that strange for Johnson to answer questions about Jones in the Braves' clubhouse Monday shortly before four workmen came in to start planning how to remove Jones’ old locker, a retirement gift from the Braves.
Johnson grew up in Naples, Fla., both a fan of the Braves and of Chipper Jones. “It’s a dream of mine to play for the Braves,” he said. He came to 10-15 games as a kid at both Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field.
“I’m excited to play third,” he said. “I know the history over there. Got some shoes to fill, going to do the best I can and try to just make sure that I play Chris Johnson’s game and obviously not Chipper Jones’ game.”
The Braves asked for Johnson in the deal when it became clear they would have to part with Martin Prado to acquire a player of Upton’s caliber.