It is apparent that the Braves were somewhat surprised when Andruw Jones changed courses and headed for the Texas Rangers. Not that the Braves had shown a great deal of interest in reeling him in for an encore. But, he was here, he had been working out, trimming his formerly plump body into combat condition. Suddenly, though, (surprise!) he was gone, headed for Surprise, Arizona, where the Rangers spend spring training.
Texas? So suddenly? No trail led him to the Rangers. Surely none of the steroid revelations about the Rangers had influenced Andruw. Especially not since Nolan Ryan had been firmly established as president of the club. This may or may not come as a surprise to the Braves, and this is written with the hope that a confidence is not being violated here. It is my personal opinion that if tracked down to the root, it may be determined that Jones was following the trail of one of his former teammates. Otherwise, why would this connection with the Rangers suddenly come to pass?
You have read, of course, of Jeff Francoeur’s reconstructed batting form this spring. He has kept to himself about how he went about it, with whom he worked and how he went about the project with such confidence and secrecy. He had his personal reasons, all critical to reviving his career after the dismal season just completed. There is a hitting coach with the Rangers, Rudy Jaramillo, who has developed quite a colony of followers around the major leagues. Jaramillio is in his 19th season with the Rangers, and in his time he has been a factor in the development of Alex Rogriguez, Rafael Palmiero, Michael Young, Mark Teixeira and other major leaguers who have blossomed there.
My conclusion: Francoeur could have opened the door for Jones, put him on line with Jarmillo and thus, set him on the road to Surprise. Something along the line of magic has taken place. Both Jones and the Rangers are so pleased with developments that they have settled on a contract. Andruw has signed for a base salary of $500,000, with incentives that could lead to $1-million.
Didn’t take long. Reports of the “new” Jones swing smacks of some schooling at the hand of Rudy Jaramillo, and the results have been so impressive that the Rangers took him in. Not that theirs was any great monetary risk, but that there are prospects of a reward far overshadowing such an investment. All of this, you understand, just a matter of one man’s speculation.