Garrett Jones is a big man at 6-feet-4, but he is at his best only with a short swing.
Heading into this weekend, the Pirates' right fielder was slumping at .172 and losing at-bats to Matt Diaz. But he broke out in a huge way in the first three games in Cincinnati, reaching base 10 times and homering twice. Perhaps most impressively, he went to the opposite field in the Pirates' 7-6 victory Sunday. He has shown little power going that way since that 21-homer rookie breakout two years ago.
"It's all starting to come into place and feel better," Jones said. "I feel like I'm using my hands a lot better. I've hit some balls well the past few days, and I'm just going to try to keep that going, keep that consistent."
Manager Clint Hurdle observed that Jones had been well out of his usually compact form.
"Guys get locked up from time to time for different reasons," Hurdle said. "Normally, there's just too much noise going on upstairs. Garrett just needs to keep it simple. Hopefully, we've been able to simplify some things for him. He's shown some traction this series especially, for the first time all year. There's been some consistency."
That will be pivotal for the Pirates, who are no better than average in production or power and need to find both from all parts of their lineup. To that end, Jones will continue to platoon with Diaz in right field, as both have a history of faring well against pitchers from the opposite side.
"We need him involved in the offense," Hurdle said of Jones.
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