ARLINGTON -- Through the first month of the 2009 season, Andruw Jones carried a .344 average with a .523 on-base percentage and a .781 slugging percentage. He also knocked out three home runs and drove in six as part of the Rangers lineup.
By the time the year was complete, Jones had a .214 average with 17 home runs and 43 RBIs. The veteran's strong start with the White Sox certainly is comparable to last April, but Jones believes this early success actually will be sustainable throughout the remainder of the campaign.
"No doubt," said Jones, who finished 0-for-3 with one run scored while hitting third and playing right field for the White Sox in Thursday afternoon's 7-5 victory over the Rangers. "Last year, it was a little feeling of getting ready. But after the season was over, I sat down and sort of had a talk with myself and said, 'You still have a lot of baseball left.' That motivated me more."
Better conditioning stands as one major reason behind 2010 optimism for Jones, who reported to camp 25 pounds lighter and has stayed in shape since. But as manager Ozzie Guillen told Jones, he doesn't want fit players. He wants good players.
Guillen also informed Jones back in December that if he showed up ready to play at Spring Training and then performed well, he would get more and more at-bats. That statement has played out through the season's first month.
With Texas in 2009, Jones had a mere 28 at-bats in September and October combined. He didn't hit a home run after launching two against Detroit on July 29. That version of Jones was different, though, playing only 17 games in the outfield and eight at first base. He has greater value to the White Sox by showing he still can handle the defensive role with relative ease.
"When I came to Texas, I knew what my job was going to be," Jones said. "I was going to be playing here and there when someone needs a day off. If we were facing a lefty, I'll be playing. But when I came [to the White Sox], I told them I would be ready to play every day. I knew the situation coming over here would be the same way, but with my early start and me showing them I can still play the outfield, things have worked out a little different.
"I got tired," said Jones, addressing his late dropoff with Texas. "I had a long offseason that year, too. I went to the Dominican and played and never did that before. This past offseason, I changed my program. I did a lot of running, to get my resistance up, a lot of sprints, long distance running, so I could be ready to play."