Newcomer spotlight: Garrett Jones envisions turnaround in Miami
JUPITER, Fla. — Marlins first baseman Garrett Jones wants to recreate the magic Pittsburgh did last year.
Jones, who spent five seasons with the Pirates from 2009-13, helped the club snap a streak of 21 straight years without a postseason appearance. Miami has not reached the playoffs since winning the World Series in 2003.
The 32-year-old replaces oft-injured Logan Morrison at first. Jones has 102 career home runs and 330 RBI in parts of six big-league seasons. The hope is he will provide consistency to a position that featured eight different players in 2013.
Occasionally, FOX Sports Florida will catch up with new faces in the Marlins clubhouse during spring training. Here’s a closer look at Jones…
FOX SPORTS FLORIDA: Is there any story behind the GI Jones Twitter handle?
GARRETT JONES: It was Memorial Day and I had a grandfather who was in World War II who passed away the offseason before. I ended up hitting a home run and the announcer threw it out there. It stuck. Got to give him credit for that one.
FSF: Offseason comes, you sign with the Marlins. What attracted you most to playing with this group of guys?
JONES: I think just the talent and the potential this team has from just playing against them last year. I was able to see some things that opened my eyes with the potential of this team (that is) close to really turning into a winner. I enjoyed being a part of that with Pittsburgh, and I want to be part of something like that here turning around a team and go to the winning side. It’s a special thing. Getting an opportunity to play and play with such a young team that has a lot of talent and has potential was very appealing.
FSF: If you could talk about that experience last year with Pittsburgh, an organization that waited so long to have a winning season again.
JONES: Last year was an incredible year how the city really got behind us as a team. Everywhere we went people were saying good luck or rooting for you. It was a big turnaround from the years before. The crowds and the electricity in the city changed. It was a good feeling to bring winning baseball back to the city of Pittsburgh, and the city definitely got behind us. It was a fun experience to see the city and stadium erupt when we were in the playoffs. It’s something I’ll never forget.
FSF: It’s got to be cool to help bring up the morale of the city?
JONES: People were so excited and just getting stopped in the street. You could see it on their faces — the pleasure they were getting from watching us win and how hungry they were for a winner and finally getting one.
FSF: Heading into the spring, was there anything in particular you wanted to work on? Usually spring is for trying things out.
JONES: I think just my swing, making sure mechanically I’m in tune and working on lefties in the cage, hitting curveballs and really staying inside through the ball. And just staying healthy, working out the kinks and getting everything fine-tuned for the season. I feel good where I’m at right now. I just really want to feel comfortable at the plate and go with an approach that I take into the season.
FSF: You were a teammate of [Mike] Redmond’s in 2007 with the Twins. How was he as a teammate and how does he compare as a manager?
JONES: He was awesome. Same kind of guy — leadership, great guy, loose but has a great leadership ability and able to joke around and very approachable. You can talk to him about the game, ask him questions and bounce ideas off him. That’s what you want as a player, just a coach who’s like a player but has that leadership where you look up to him and talk to him. That’s what he possesses. I think that’s what makes this clubhouse that much better.
FSF: And you get to work with (infield coach) Perry Hill again.
JONES: Bone’s awesome. All the coaching staff’s great. Everybody gets along great. Everybody’s loose. As long as you get your work in, work hard and do everything right that’s all they ask for. Bone is intense and one of the best if not the best out there.
FSF: Last thing, what are your hopes and expectations for yourself personally and for the team? What do you envision playing out.
JONES: Me personally, I want to stay consistent all year. I’m not really thinking about any numbers. Just stay consistent and focus on having good at-bats, driving the ball. Just hitting line drives. The numbers will be there in the end. As a team, I think the same thing. Stay consistent, take it one game at a time and play our game. We have excellent pitching, just have good at-bats and do the same things you need to do to win ballgames. It’s going to help us through a long season. That’s basically what we need to do.