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Braves' Chipper Jones to retire after 2012 season

Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones plans to retire at the end of the 2012 Major League Baseball season, the team said on Thursday.

A seven-times All-Star who was drafted first overall by Atlanta in 1990, Jones was the National League's most valuable player in 1999 and has played all 18 of his big-league seasons with the Braves.

However, the 39-year-old has been hampered by knee injuries in recent seasons and considered retiring in 2010 before his batting form improved.

"I'm very proud that for 23 years I've donned one uniform ... the red, white and blue of the Atlanta Braves," Jones, who turns 40 next month, said during a news conference at spring training in Florida.

"I often admired, when I was coming up, guys like Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn who were able to work with their organization so that they could stay in one place. They knew how important it was to stay in one place and be the face of the franchise.

"While I don't consider myself to be in their realm, I'm awfully proud to say I've been a part of this organization for so long."

Jones, who has a .304 career average along with 454 homers and 1,561 runs batted in, hopes to rejoin the Braves in a yet-to-be-determined capacity after 2012.

He is the only switch hitter ever to post a .300 career average in the majors with more than 300 homers, and his career batting average ranks second all-time among switch hitters, after Hall-of-Famer Frankie Frisch (.316).

The Braves conclude their 162-game regular season on October 3.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)