"Last year during spring training, I saw in USA Today that the Padres had already named the 10 pitchers that would break camp with them," Jones said. "You see that and you're saying, 'Why am I here? To collect meal money?'
"But, golly, it's a great feeling now. The last two springs it's been like, 'Jones, you're in the B game' or 'Jones, you're a backup in the A game.' This year is a whole different thing. And I love this challenge. I know if I have to go back to Triple-A, it's because of me."
With him, it's a confidence thing. He lacks it. But his wife, Judy, has helped. She tells him "to keep the fire in my eyes," he said. And she's at every game, sitting behind the plate. She called the Padre office here to complain that all the seats in the front row behind the plate were taken. Last year, she used to drive from Las Vegas to Phoenix to watch him throw on the road. She throws a fist in the air when he strikes somebody out.
McKeon laughs at them, because at a Padre organizational dinner last week Jones held hands with Judy the entire time. He could eat only with his right hand, because the other one was occupied.
After he pitched the one-hitter in Houston, he saw her near the team bus and said: "Gooool-eeeee! Can you believe it?" Then they hugged for minutes, which delayed the bus from leaving.
But nobody interrupted them.
In the Padre victory over the Angels Sunday, second baseman Joey Cora had two hits, scored two runs, had an RBI and stole a base. On Saturday, Manager Larry Bowa had lectured Cora on his lack of concentration. Bowa says that Cora has a "heck of a chance" to make the team. . . . Pitchers Ed Vosberg (who gave up one hit in two innings), Joe Bitker (who allowed no hits in two innings) and Craig Lefferts (who allowed three hits and one run and had two strikeouts in two innings) impressed Bowa as well. Outfielder Shawn Abner had a double, infielder Bip Roberts went 1 for 1 and James Steels went 1 for 1 with an RBI. . . . The Padres face Seattle and former Padre Manager Dick Williams today at 12:05 in Tempe. Ed Whitson will be the starting Padre pitcher, followed by Eric Show and Brian Snyder.