Triple shows off Garrett Jones' speed
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Looking at Garrett Jones, it might be hard to picture him as a short and speedy kid.
"I was fast when I was little," Jones said. "Then I got tall and skinny and starting slowing down."
Jones hit a growth spurt after his freshman year in high school, shooting up four inches to 6-feet tall by the start of his sophomore year. These days, the Pirates right fielder stands 6-4.
"When I got tall, I lost some of my coordination," Jones said. "Eventually, it started to come back."
Jones has a 230-pound slugger's physique, which helps explain the 21 home runs he mashed in 82 games last season. But the big man's got some wheels, too -- he stole 10 bases in 12 tries.
"I take pride in being able to run the bases well," Jones said. "I like stealing bases and turning doubles into triples. Maybe sometimes, other players look at a big guy, and they automatically think 'slow.' "
Sunday, in the Pirates' 8-2 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays, Jones whipped a triple into the right-field corner. Jones slid in safely an instant ahead of third baseman Hank Blalock's tag.
Last season, Jones had one triple among his 45 extra-base hits.
Jones realizes his primary role in the lineup -- he'll usually bat third ahead of Ryan Doumit -- will be to blast the ball off or over the outfield wall and drive in runs. But the Pirates' plan to be aggressive on the basepaths does not exclude Jones.
Does that mean the 20-20 mark for homers and steals could be within Jones' grasp?
"I think it's possible," Jones said. "If I can sneak in 10 to 15 stolen bases, that would put me in scoring position more often."
Jones paused and smiled.
"It'd be nice to go 20-50, too."
"This doesn't mean I'm going to pitch like this in the regular season. It just means that I need to start pitching better." -- Ross Ohlendorf
54 -- Stolen bases by Garrett Jones over nine seasons in the minors
158 -- Homers by Jones in the minors