Saturday, December 27, 2008
Andruw Jones In Winter Ball
Andruw Jones’ search for solid contact has landed him in the heartland of a baseball-crazed country that isn’t his own, accumulating at-bats in the dead of winter.I have utterly no faith he will fix his problems, but it's worth investigating.
The skills that made Jones a five-time MLB All-Star seemed to vanish upon putting on a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform after he signed a two-year, $36.2 million contract before the 2008 season. He was helpless at the plate, batting .158 with three home runs and 28 RBI in 209 at-bats, a far cry from his career averages of 33 home runs, 100 RBI and a .260 average.
Wasn’t it only three years ago that Jones belted 51 home runs? He’s only 31 years old. Where did it all go?
If Jones returns to the Dodgers with answers, they will have been found playing for the Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League. Aguilas veteran Rafael Furcal, a longtime teammate of Jones with the Atlanta Braves and the Dodgers, got him the gig.
Furcal met Jones’ private plane at the airport. Jones, overweight and bloated during the regular season, has dropped a few pounds. He could drop a few more.
“I need at-bats,” Jones said. “I am used to getting my 500-to-600-plus plate appearances, so as the 2008 season progressed, I realized that I was going to put everything aside and explore the possibility of playing winter ball.”