BRADENTON, Fla. — First Baseman Garrett Jones said he is looking for more consistency for the 2012 season. Jones saw his average go up and down every month with Pittsburgh last year, .265 in April, .179 in May, .297 in June, .183 in July, .284 in August and finished with a .235 average in September.
“Overall consistency at the plate” Jones said on what he wants to improve this season. “Every aspect of the game. Just having that mental focus day in and day out and being more consistent on a day-to-day basis. I think I’ll be a better player. Just really maintain that focus throughout the season.”
Jones, 30, worked hard over the offseason in hopes of improving for this season. The first baseman said he really tried to just keep things more simple.
“Not beat balls to death by hitting in the cage every single day and hitting for quantity, just trying to hit for quality,” Jones said. “I think that’s definitely going to help me this year.”
“As far as thinking less about mechanics at the plate right now, just trying to get the feel of using my hands and staying through the ball, staying back and that’s really all I’m focusing on. Right now, I’m feeling good. I feel like every game I’m improving to where I want to be heading into the season.”
Heading into the 2012 season, Jones will platoon at first base with Casey McGehee. Candidates like Matt Hague, Nick Evans and Jake Fox, who are competing for the corner infield utility/bench role, can also see some time at first.
Jones’ primary focus this offseason and spring on the field was at first base. After bouncing back from right field and first base in 2011, he won’t have to worry about playing multiple positions this year.
“When you’re told you’re going to play one position primarily and you can focus on one position, it helps a little bit,” Jones said. “So that’s all I’ve been doing, been in the infield taking ground balls at first, working on my footwork. It’s nice just to be able to focus on that, and be able to improve on that. I’ll bounce in the outfield every now and then in case, but right now it’s all my focus on first.”
At 30-years-old, Jones is far from being an older player in the game. But his presence and veteran leadership helps out some of the younger guys in the Pirates clubhouse. Once looking up to other infielders when he was in his first big league camp, Jones is using his knowledge in the game to help some of the prospects.
“It’s kind of that different role [now],”Jones said. “I have a few years under my belt, and guys are in their first big league camps. They’re excited, and just trying to learn everything ,what to do, what not to do. They’re good guys. I don’t treat them any differently. I remember when I was a rookie and I was excited to be here, just be able to be in big league camp. It’s fun getting to know them and they’re all good guys. They are going to be good teammates and players.”