Sunday, April 4, 2010

Applauding Jacque Jones

Jacque Jones didn't make the team this spring.

And he still got ovation after ovation in the two Target Field shakedown games.

He was always a flawed player — he couldn't hit lefties, his strike zone judgment was poor, his throwing arm was subpar. He was miscast as a leadoff hitter, and then he was miscast as a right fielder.

But he was a key part of the 2001-04 team that turned the franchise from hapless to divisional champs, a team made up of flawed players with a knack for adding up to more than the sum of their parts.

I suspect that any significant player from the 2002 team who dons the Twins uni again will be warmly greeted by Minnesota fans, no matter how little they have left in the tank. Yes, even A.J. Pierzynski.

A few of the players from the 2002 playoff squad are still stars, or at least key regulars — Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Pierzynski. Some of them — Corey Koskie, Brad Radke, Eddie Guardado — have retired. Others — Luis Rivas, Eric Milton, Doug Mientkiewicz — have slid into athletic senility; they haven't left, but the jobs are harder to find and keep.

But the Jones saga is a bit different from the rest. There's something endearing about his quest to come home again, his willingness from the outset to accept a bench role, or even to return to Triple A and bide his time for another chance.

Whether that chance ever comes, Jones can head to Rochester secure in the knowledge that he has a place in the hearts of Minnesota fans.


No real surprise: Clay Condrey is going on the DL. What is a surprise: Alex Burnett is getting the roster spot, not Anthony Slama or Kyle Waldrop, the two young pitchers who were brought north for the Target Field test games, or veteran Ron Mahay.

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