Torre says Jones' troubles not physical
Manager notes that struggling hitter playing a sound center field
LOS ANGELES -- Yogi Berra once said that "half this game is 90 percent mental" and, as Andruw Jones' slump continues, Dodgers manager Joe Torre is firmly convinced that the problems aren't mechanical, that they are mental.
"I can't believe that he can't hit anymore," said Torre before Saturday night's game vs. the Astros.
Torre's belief comes from watching Jones hit in the batting cage and during batting practice and talking with him.
According to Torre, Jones is working hard, he's listening to what the coaches are trying, and physically, he's doing everything right. What he isn't doing right is that he's thinking about all the things he's supposed to be doing or not doing, and just not applying the old baseball adage of "see ball, hit ball."
"Right now I watch him in the batter's box and he's thinking to much," Torre said. "You want to be able to react to the action and right now he's too mechanical."
To explain his point, he talked about how Jones looked in center field.
"There's a fluidity to him," Torre said, "He plays in the field, it's effortlessly. He needs to bring that same fluidity to the plate."
As for whether Jones is overweight or not in shape, "I think he could have been in better shape in spring, but this is my first spring with him so I don't have a measuring stick," Torre said.
"I'm not saying he isn't overweight, but I don't think that it's the problem. But it certainly doesn't help when you are making a case for yourself."
Trying to put the weight issue to rest, Torre explained, "If the weight is going to be an issue, it's going to be July or August before it becomes a problem. It's more the theory about carrying those sandbags on your back. The longer you carry them, the more effect, but I think this is too early to make that determination."
Going into his own history, Torre said, "You're talking to a kid who was 240 pounds when he was 16. I played at 228 and then went down to 208, but I hit .300 at 230 pounds."
From extra work to taking a day off, from all the different theories to gut feelings about what Jones needs, Torre realizes that at this point there is only one person who can fix the problem and that is Jones himself.
More importantly, Torre believes that the Dodgers can be a better team with Jones playing center field than without.
Making one last attempt to get across to the fans what Jones is going through, he compared it to something many fans have experienced.
"It's like a golf game," Torre said. "You're doing well on the driving range, but then you get on the fairway and suddenly it doesn't seem as wide. You begin thinking."
Glenn Rabney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.