Torre remaining patient with Jones
Slumping center fielder hitting .163 with one home run
DENVER -- The Dodgers have tried everything to get Andruw Jones untracked, including having his eyes examined last month, manager Joe Torre said on Sunday.
"Because he was struggling, we sent him for a check," said Torre. "No issues."
Torre said that the club is unaware of any physical problems that would explain why Jones is hitting only .163 with one homer, four RBIs and a team-high 34 strikeouts in 98 at-bats.
Jones wasn't in the lineup on Sunday, but Torre said that the reason was to give a start to Andre Ethier, who is hitting .305 but having trouble finding playing time with a hot Juan Pierre hitting .313 and Matt Kemp hitting .327 with 22 RBIs. In addition, Jones is only 2-for-12 lifetime against Colorado starter Aaron Cook.
How long will Torre stick with Jones in center field, especially knowing that he has a .300-hitting alternative on the bench?
"As long as it takes," he said. "We see signs from time to time of a lot more comfortable at-bats. If there was something physical keeping him from doing what he's done in the past, then you'd question it. Right now it's a mental game.
"We've seen signs of life in his hands to get the bat where it needs to be. We're not aware of anything physical that would keep him from doing it on a regular basis. The problem is when you try too much. He's adjusting his stance, trying things with his swing.
"It's a slump. I don't think this thing is terminal. He needs a 3-for-4 day. Maybe that play that [Colorado third baseman Garrett] Atkins made, if it goes down the line, it gives him a chance to exhale. I don't think he's in denial. It's just frustrating."
Though having four outfielders for three positions is no fun for the odd man out, Torre said that it allows him to play the hot hand, in this case, Pierre.
Torre also sat second baseman Jeff Kent on Sunday, giving him the day game after a night game off. He had James Loney, who drove in six on Saturday night, batting cleanup, and Chin-lung Hu starting at second base and batting eighth. From spots 3 through 8 in the order, the oldest player was the 26-year-old Ethier.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.