02/23/10 5:07 PM EST
Andruw to DH against lefties from outset
At-bats against righties to come if warranted
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
But the White Sox manager left the door open for the physically fit Jones to earn even more warranted at-bats.
"Can he play every day and help us? I don't see why not," said Guillen of Jones, who has already drawn early-camp notice from his svelte look. "He has to use all the fields to make him better. The potential and ability is there. He has to know how to use it the best.
"Talking about him right now, he will play against lefties and is going to be in the middle of the lineup. It depends how [Carlos] Quentin and [Paul] Konerko swing the bat, and [Alex] Rios. I hope he keeps in the middle of the lineup and hopefully that works out."
Jones' recent struggles have been well-documented, with the right-handed slugger having topped 20 home runs just once in his last three seasons. But Guillen knows Jones from a better time, back in 1998-99, when Jones was first emerging as a standout force both in the field and at the plate.
While Jones figures primarily into the team's plans at DH, with Rios anchoring center field, Guillen believes an offensive resurgence is possible for the 32-year-old who launched 41 home runs and drove in 129 as recently as 2006 for Atlanta.
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"I think Andruw can hit 25 home runs in our ballpark without trying," Guillen said. "He's that good. One thing that killed him about his game plan was to hit that many home runs, all of a sudden he thought he was a home run hitter. Knowing him for a long time, when Andruw doesn't try to hit home runs, he comes up and has good at-bats and he's got a shot.
"He's been great. I think he took care of himself very well during the winter. I'm going to give him every opportunity to show the ballclub what he can do, how he can help us. He's a little hungry. I was with him when he came in [to the league] and everything was easy in the game.
"God gave him so much ability to go out and play the game," Guillen said. "Now, he gets to the spot where he had a couple of years off, where he was not playing every day after playing every day, this is a second shot for him. It's a very important shot for him to show people."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.