All indicators seem to be pointing toward Chipper Jones retiring at the end of the 2010 season, barring some sort of miracle turnaround at the plate.

I’m hoping that he’ll right the ship and somehow manage to salvage the season, but I just don’t see it happening. Though, this is one case where I hope I’m wrong.

It’s too bad, really. The Braves are in first place in the NL East—albeit by the slimmest of margins. Yet, Chipper is in an unfamiliar place.

Yes, he’s still batting third and holding down the fort at third base, but he’s not contributing offensively in the way he’s accustomed to.

Time catches up to everyone (except Barry Bonds, it appears), and there comes a day when the body won’t do what it used to—it doesn’t react as quickly, heal as fast, and the bat doesn’t get through the zone like it once did.

It looks like that day has come for Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones—now age 38.

He has been the anchor in the three-hole for the Braves for nearly two decades, and he is every bit as important to the team’s past success as Maddux, Glavine, or Smoltz.

He’s a lifetime Brave, and he’s given everything he has to the organization that drafted him 20 years ago.

However, Bobby Cox’s loyalty to the former MVP might prove costly if Jones continues to struggle as he has been since he won the NL batting title in 2008.

In 51 games this season (he’s missed 14 so far), Jones has scored 24 times, driven in 23 runs, and has just four home runs. He’s batting an abysmal .233 and slugging .366 in 172 at-bats—not Chipper-like numbers.

Jones met with Cox and Braves GM Frank Wren to discuss his future with the team. He was supposed to hold a press conference at which he was expected to announce his plans to retire at the end of the season, but he canceled it.

That doesn’t mean he’s not retiring; it just means he’s not ready to announce it to the world, and I’m okay with that.

Will he call it quits after this season? If I had to guess, I’d say yes.

In the meantime, I hope that he can find his stroke and help the Braves make it back to the postseason—something he’s gone on record saying he wants to do before he retires.

The Braves will move on just as all teams do, and the future looks bright with young guys like Martin Prado, Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward, Omar Infante, Johnny Venters, and Brooks Conrad.

However, it will be a bit surreal to see the Braves take the field for the first time without No. 10 at the hot corner and batting third.

On a more positive note, Chipper had two hits in five at-bats including career home run No. 430; he also scored twice and drove in a run in a losing effort to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.

Read more MLB news on