Andruw Jones Likely To Be Rangers Fifth Outfielder

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IMarch 23, 2009

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27:  Andruw Jones of the Texas Rangers  walks of the filed after warming up before the start of a spring training game against Chicago Cubs at the Surprise Stadium on February 27, 2009 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

On Sunday, Rangers GM Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington sat down with 11-time Gold Glove outfielder Andruw Jones to talk about his future with the team.

During the offseason, Jones signed a minor league contract that would pay him a base salary of $500,000 and up to $1 million in incentives. 

In that contract, Jones had an opt-out clause if he was not placed on the Rangers 25-man roster by today, then he could get out of the contract in hopes of making another major league team.

However, what has come out of that meeting  today is that Jones is willing to accept a  back-up type role with the team.

“I never came into camp expecting to be a regular everyday player or to play center field,” Jones said. “That was not my goal. My goal was to work with [hitting coach] Rudy [Jaramillo], get my swing together and be the player I once was. I never said I have to play.”

The decision on Jones will likely take place within the next few hours, and if he is placed on the Rangers 25-man roster, it will be as the fifth outfielder and a right-handed DH.

The Rangers already have their starting outfield set and announced, with David Murphy (left,) Josh Hamilton (center,) Nelson Cruz (right,) starting and Marlon Byrd as the fourth outfielder and first back-up for all three positions. 

Jones can fit in as another right-handed bat for late game subs or, heaven forbid, a mid-game injury.

The Rangers also like the fact that with Jones being a right-handed hitter, he can share some time with Hank Blalock (left-handed bat) as the DH.

The players seem excited at the possibility of bringing in Jones, a player who hit 51 homers in 2005 and has hit over 26 home runs per year in ten seasons, to fill in as an outfield replacement and situational hitter.

The bad news out of this is that it seems that OF/1B Frank Catalanotto will be the odd man out in the Rangers lineup.

Jones has an advantage over Cat being that he is a right-handed hitter. Catalanotto can play left field, first base, and also DH, all three positions are currently held by left-handed batters (LF- Murphy, 1B- Chris Davis, DH- Blalock.)

If he does not make the opening day roster, then the team will first attempt to trade Catalanotto. But if they can’t and release him from the team, they will still owe Cat $6 million.

With four spots available on the bench for opening day 2009, the team will very well carry either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden as the back-up catcher, depending on which one is named the starter.

Omar Vizquel will stick as the utility infielder, Byrd as the fourth outfielder, and either Catalanotto or Jones filling out the club.