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Dodgers' Jones won't even swing at a fat pitch

T.J. SIMERS

April 13, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

Talked to the Dodgers' Andruw Jones before Saturday night's game, and he whiffed again.

I wanted to know if the tubbo thought he could maybe hit his weight at some point this season.

He said he's not fat and doing just fine, apparently envisioning himself as some sort of supermodel and weighing in with a .105 batting average.

He said he's 240 pounds, and I said no way, and so he said, "Do you want me to go weigh myself?"

I said, "Yes, I do," and he said the scale was off limits to the media because as you know the Dodgers get their jollies making most areas around here off limits to people.

"Let's go," I said while leading him to the scale, and he checked in at 248 pounds. "My shoes are on," he said, sounding more like my wife than the Dodgers' center fielder.

I suggested a diet contest benefiting Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA since I would like to drop a ton before a special event in June, but Jones wanted no part of it.

"You're hilarious," he said. "I don't have to prove really nothing."

I guess that's what happens when a team agrees to pay you $36.2 million over two years.

General Manager Ned Colletti said Jones' best weight is somewhere between 235 and 240. Colletti also said Jason Schmidt would help the Dodgers.

Manager Joe Torre, a former tubbo who dropped 20 pounds as a player and then went on to hit .325 and .363, said he could talk until blue in the face, but if Jones isn't buying it, it's not going to make a difference.

The Dodgers, though, have paid Torre to make a difference.

Jones said it doesn't matter what Torre thinks, and I guess that's what happens when a team agrees to pay you $36.2 million over two years.

"That's their problem whatever they think; I have no problem with my weight," the tubbo said.

Maybe it's a problem and maybe it's not, I said, but when you come to a team, struggle and look like a player who just didn't care enough to be in shape when the season begins, it upsets fans.

"That's part of life," he said. "Good players get booed. Look at A-Rod."

The tubbo should ever look that good in a uniform.

The fans in Dodger Stadium, catching the tubbo's act for only the fourth time at home in a Dodgers uniform, booed Jones on Friday night after another wretched performance.

They even booed him in pregame introductions Saturday night, and with runners on first and third in the first, he struck out -- the fans letting him have it again.

In the third, with runners on first and second, he walked, a Dodgers highlight so far this season.

"I don't have to tell fans nothing," he said, and he certainly knows how to sell those Andruw Jones jerseys. "If they want to support me, fine; if they don't want to support me, that's their choice. I can't worry about what other people say. They're not God.

"You get paid for what you do."

Well then, you seem to be terribly overpaid at the current time, I said.

Jones hit .222 last season, and the Dodgers gave him $36.2 million. What would they have paid him had he hit his weight?

"It's not the first time in my life I've struggled," said Jones, who struck out 51 times in the Braves' first 41 games last season.

I told him I had to admit he was improving, striking out 11 times in the first 10 games -- at that pace striking out only 45 times in 41 games.

"I'm not going to hit 27 home runs in April," he said.

"How about one?" I suggested.

Jones had four hits and the same slugging percentage as Juan Pierre before Saturday's game, then went 0 for 3 and struck out again. The extra weight and the smirk that always seems plastered across his face, while charming, make it seem at times that he just doesn't care.

"Do I have to be sad all the time?" he said. "My mom is still living, my dad is still living, and my mom thinks I'm fine and that's what matters.

"If I didn't care then why have I played more games than any other active player since 1997?" he said, maybe for the first time showing a little life. "We'll see when the season is over in September or August."

I had no idea the Dodgers' season might be over as early as August, but the way he's swinging the bat, it makes sense.

TORRE IS new on the job, so trying to help, I told him he's got it all wrong so far, playing Pierre when Matt Kemp should be in the lineup every game.

"We need to get Andruw started," he began, explaining why he has Jones in the every-day lineup.

If that's the case, until Jones hits one out of the park, that's another reason to put Kemp's power into the lineup.

"I can't concern myself with power right now," he said. "We need to generate some offense, and have to start small."

So that's why he's going with the shrimp over Kemp.

THE AUTOGRAPH situation is better at Dodger Stadium, but not much. The team is still not allowing anyone without a ticket into the field-level box seats, lining up all those who want an autograph in aisle 27 -- the line extending all the way to the concourse.

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