MILWAUKEE -- Brewers rookie right-hander Tyler Thornburg offered a reminder that Major League Baseball players can be Major League Baseball fans, too. Thornburg grew up in Atlanta idolizing Chipper Jones, and took to Twitter at the start of this week's Braves-Brewers series to express his admiration. Jones wrote back, publicly wishing Thornburg luck in his career. Thornburg called the exchange "really cool." When it was suggested that, considering he's a big leaguer in his own right, he could have simply approached Jones in person, the 23-year-old had a different idea.
"Maybe I can pitch against him instead," Thornburg said. Thornburg did not get the opportunity in the first two games of the series, so he was content Wednesday to watch a ceremony honoring Jones for his storied career. Jones announced earlier this year his intent to retire after the season, so Wednesday marked the last of his 42 career games in Milwaukee. The Brewers marked the occasion by presenting Jones with a Weber gas grill and a year's supply of Klement's sausages. That's just what Chipper wanted; he told a Milwaukee reporter at the All-Star Game that his kids love bratwurst. Fans have been showing their appreciation all week by delivering standing ovations before Jones' first at-bat. "I'm not lying, I got chills," Thornburg said. "You never really see a guy play that long, and play in one city. Growing up I was a Braves fan and went to so many games that it was weird being on the other side of it." Thornburg was just shy of his fifth birthday when Jones made his Major League debut on Sept. 11, 1993. He was not the only Jones fan in the Brewers' clubhouse. "I got to play with him in the World Baseball Classic in 2009, so that was probably my most memorable Chipper experience," left fielder Ryan Braun said. "Really getting to know him, to hang out with him, was cool." Saying Jones is well-liked by rival players is an understatement. "I love Chipper," Braun said. "Great player, great person, a lot of fun to be around. Obviously, he's had a tremendous career." Said Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez: "A first-ballot Hall of Famer, no doubt. There's no doubt he's going to be in there."