It's been hard to watch Nick Swisher struggle at the plate while the New York Yankees bob-and-weave their way through the AL East, but it's even tougher to seeing Andruw Jones gathering rust in the dugout.
Last night, Jones was the knockout punch after he went 3-for-3 with 2 home-runs and 4 RBI's in the Yankees 7-3 win over division-rival the Toronto Blue Jays. Swisher's struggles continued as he went 0-for-3 and his average dropped to a miniscule .204.
It's time for Yankees manager Joe Girardi to make a move in right field and give Jones more at-bats.
Swisher, meanwhile, has been consistent this year--consistently horrible. He has 2 home-runs and 19 RBI's to go with that barely-beating average in 152 at-bats.
It seems like a no-brainer, but it's not an easy call for Girardi. Swisher is one of the best liked players on the team, among teammates and fans, and played a major part in the Yankees 2009 World Series run. But facts are facts and Swisher is a black hole in the line-up right now.
Girardi always allows the regular players to get their fair share of time in so they can gain momentum and not lose confidence. Swisher's 152 at-bats has been enough time for him to lose momentum and confidence in one fair shake. Through it all, Swisher keeps smiling.
Jones' confidence is what Girardi should be nurturing. Especially with a rugged 19 game schedule facing the Yankees over the course of the next three weeks. Three weeks that could be the barometer of which direction the Yankees are headed.
The Yankees begin a nine-game west coast swing against three of the top four team pitching ERA's in the AL--the Seattle Mariners, the Oakland A's and Los Angeles Angels-- before coming home to three power-packed line-ups--the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers.
Girardi will need all the fire power he can muster.
The 34 year-old Jones knows his place on this team but, besides being a solid hitter, is a 10-time Gold Glove winner.
"It was a great day, you know," said Jones after yesterday's victory. "I had three swings today, I got three hits. So that's what I'm looking for."
Last year, with the Chicago White Sox, Jones was a back-up, but got 276 at-bats due to injuries to Carlos Quentin, and still banged out 19 home-runs.
The Yankees have shopped around the idea of adding another big bat. Jorge Posada's woes as DH and Swisher's light hitting have to be a concern to Girardi, even though the manager stuck with Brett Gardner through his slump until the left-fielder found his groove. Maybe Jones' bat has been the answer all along.
Jones' grin is a little puffier than the 19 year-old Atlanta Brave who batted .400 against the Yankees in the 1996 World Series or when he hit 51 homers in 2005, but the pop is still in his bat. Yesterday, one of his blasts cleared the 408-foot wall in centerfield.
For now Jones is thankful for any playing time.
"Everybody wants to play more," said Jones. "Nobody wants to be on the bench and watch the game."
Maybe it's time for Jones to stop watching. He deserves a shot.