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Opportunity knocks for Andruw Jones

Andruw Jones signed a one-year, $2 million deal

Andruw Jones signed a one-year, $2 million deal to be a fourth outfielder for the Yankees in 2011. Credit: AP

Newly acquired Andruw Jones will not earn his $2 million by sitting on the bench for the Yankees.

There is every indication that the so-called fourth outfielder will get plenty of at-bats.

The Yankees needed a productive right handed hitter—Marcus Thames was generally successful but streaky last season—and Jones fills that need and more. He can also play in the outfield, something Thames could only do with the greatest of uncertainty.

The Yankees were dreadful against lefthanded pitchers. Even Alex Rodriguez, a natural righthanded hitter, averaged only .217 against southpaws.

Where will Jones get his at-bats? Potentially, from all three outfield positions. Against lefthanded pitching, Jones hit .256 with eight home runs and 23 runs batted in for the White Sox last season. He hit 11 homers and had 25 RBIs vs. righthanders, so his power does not ebb, but his average does, as he dipped to .219.

But compare Jones' stats against lefties to the Yankees starters and therein lies his value. .

Leftfielder Brett Gardner hit .252 with two homers and 17 RBIs against lefties. Centerfielder Curtis Granderson ( .234, 4, 12) also did not fare well. Switch-hitting right fielder Nick Swisher (.291 4, 16) holds his own.

If Granderson gets off to a bad start against lefties, he could be the most vulnerable to losing at-bats to Jones. If Jones makes the most of his opportunity, a platoon situation could develop in either center or left.

There is still another avenue for Jones. Switch hitter Jorge Posada is penciled in as the every day designated hitter. He hit .257 with eight homers and 25 RBIs against lefties; .243 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs vs. righties. That’s close to a push with Jones, but with Posada nearing 40 and the potential for injury and slumps, Jones can expect some at-bats as the DH, too.

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