04/22/08 7:15 PM ET
Jones out of Dodgers' lineup
Center fielder under the weather, rests against Reds
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Jones said his allergies had kicked up, his body was "achy" and his joints were sore "like I got hit by a car." Torre said the outfielder had either cold or flu symptoms. Nobody would deny that his swing also is ailing, as he's batting .159 with one home run and 22 strikeouts in 63 at-bats.
"With the long flight [after Tuesday night's game], we'll give him a blow and get back and hope he's OK tomorrow," said Torre. "We need him to win -- it's as simple as that. That's what I've been telling him. He may sit, but I've been telling him, 'We know we need you and we're not going away from you.'"
But Torre is in a bind, needing to keep the momentum from Monday night's nine-run outburst going and having a veteran like Juan Pierre to insert into the lineup.
Everyone from hitting coaches Mike Easler and Don Mattingly to Braves hitting coach Eddie Perez to the average fan in the stands knows what Jones is doing wrong -- he's trying to pull every pitch for a 500-foot home run. He's pulling off pitches and swinging too hard.
Torre acknowledged that Jones' struggles could be the result of more than a year of bad habits as opposed to a temporary slump, considering Jones' down numbers last season with Atlanta and a Spring Training that looked just like the first three weeks of this season. Torre said Easler and Mattingly have been utilizing drills to get Jones to drive pitches up the middle, but at game speed he reverts to pulling.
Because the problem is as much approach as mechanics, Torre said this is not something that will be cured in one session. But he said Jones is coachable, willing and diligent.
"I know I hit a long home run and went 0-for-11 after that," Torre said. "He hit 50 home runs (51 in 2005), and that gets you in some bad habits. He hit 26 last year, but who knows what he would have done with a different approach. Home runs get everybody excited, but sometimes they get in the way of what a guy is capable of doing.
"He's gradually gotten to the point of pull, pull, pull. He's capable of driving the ball that way [to right and center field]. He can hit it over the center-field fence. He can drive it that way. But it will take some time. It took time to get where he is now."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.