Thursday, April 2, 2009
Jones earns final roster spot
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Andruw Jones and the Texas Rangers seem to be on the same page.
Hoping to make the team as a backup, Jones went 2-for-2 with a double and go-ahead home run Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels to earn the final spot on the Rangers' roster.
"There was a time earlier in the spring we didn't think Andruw could help us," Texas manager Ron Washington said Thursday. "But Andruw wanted to be here and came back and said maybe we misunderstood what he was trying to do. He'd accept any role that we had for him."
Washington said they gave Jones another chance.
"We put him back out there and we believed in him. We think he's going to be a good addition," the manager said.
Jones, who turns 32 on April 23, got the last spot over Frank Catalanotto, who was placed on irrevocable release waivers. The move could be costly for the Rangers, who owe Catalanotto $4 million this year and $2 million next year if nobody claims him off waivers.
Formerly a Gold Glove center fielder and a home run champion, Jones got a spot as the Rangers' fifth outfielder and a bat off the bench.
"I think it was a little misunderstood because they thought I wanted to come to the team and start playing every day," Jones said. "I knew when I came in I was not going to play every day here.
"I just wanted to make the team and be part of the team," he said. "I can help them because I think we've got a special team here and that we can do something special at the end of the year."
Jones hit 26 or more home runs from 1998 to 2007 with the Atlanta Braves. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2007 season and hit .156 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 75 games. He was placed on the disabled list three times with a knee injury and had to have surgery.
The Dodgers released him on Jan. 20 and he signed with the Rangers on Feb. 10.
"It was trying to do too much, trying to go out there prove everybody wrong," Jones said. "Everybody looks at you as the big guy because they pay you all the money. Things didn't go the way I wanted it to go. Mentally I wasn't there. Last year made me understand what this is all about to be with a different team and a different atmosphere. I think I learned a lot from last year."
Jones has worked diligently with hitting coach Rudy Jarmamillo to get his stroke back to when he was one of the most feared right-handed hitters in the National League.
"I feel healthy enough," he said. "I think I'm getting my swing there. My confidence is getting back."
Jones led the majors with 51 home runs and the NL with 128 RBIs in 2005, finishing second in the MVP balloting.
"In his case, he's a finished product because he's done it before," Washington said. "He's trying to find his way back. If you ask me if he's finished finding his way back, that's ongoing."
Washington said he does not know how many at-bats he'll be able to get Jones.
"We'll figure that out as we go along," Washington said. "We've always been able to get at-bats for people. I don't foresee us not getting him at-bats especially if he's getting his act together. We will do the best we can to keep him sharp as we can."