ATLANTA - Chipper Jones finally hit 400, but that doesn't mean he can stop talking about .400.
He hit his 400th career home run Thursday against Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco. He joined Mickey Mantle (536) and Eddie Murray (504) as the only switch-hitters in baseball history to reach that mark. But just as one milestone is reached, another pursuit enters the third month of the sixth-month baseball season.
Jones, the Atlanta Braves' third baseman, is trying to become the first player to hit .400 since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.
"I'd be lying if I said people don't like attention," Jones said. "We all like attention. It has been fun up to this point with the 400 homers and hitting .400, although I think that's a little far-fetched to be talking about it the first week of June."
Jones is hitting .420 after going 1 for 3 with a two-run homer last night at Turner Field.
"It's really premature," Jones said of hitting .400. "I would have said 70, 80 years ago, back when pitchers threw 350, 400 innings in a season, it might have been possible because you know you're going to see that guy four, five times during the course of a game.
"It's a little different now because I'm only going to get the starter for three at-bats, a lefty specialist out of the pen to turn me around, and then the closer. It's a lot tougher to pile on multihit games that you're going to need, because you're going to take your share of O-fers along the way."
Jones, who hit a career-best .337 last year, has played in 57 games this season; he has been hitless in just eight. He has had three or more hits in 10 of them.
"I've swung the bat extremely well, don't get me wrong," Jones said. "But I've been awfully lucky. It seems like every broken bat has found a hole. I've hit off the end of gloves. There's been a lot of luck involved in it, and I think anybody who has ever flirted with it will tell you the same thing.
"I don't think I'll do it. It possibly could be done, because I've seen Ichiro [Suzuki] get 260 hits in a season. He is a guy who is going to leg out 50, 60, 70 hits a year. Those are hits I won't get. I'm not going to say never. You throw in 40, 50 walks on Ichiro's behalf and a 240-hit season, it could be possible."
So if Jones had a better set of wheels, could it be possible?
"I'd be hitting .430 or .440 right now," he said, laughing.
But Jones genuinely seems to be enjoying the chase, even if he thinks he won't do it.
"It's been a great time," he said. "Here we are in June, and we're talking about it. My approach has been just to keep it in perspective. My job is to hit and produce every night. I just feel like I've done my job."