Jones eager to prove he's back

Andruw Jones has been a pleasant surprise for the White Sox this spring. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It only seems like Andruw Jones is 40. But that's what happens when, as a 19-year-old, you knock baseball on its backside and everyone remembers.

It was 1996, Braves-Yankees World Series at Yankee Stadium, and the kid with the oddly spelled first name stepped to the plate against Andy Pettitte. If Jones was a phenom -- and indeed, he qualified, having been scouted by Atlanta at 15 and signed at 16 -- then few outside the Braves knew about him before that day.

Pettitte made his mistake with a fastball left a little too far over the plate, and a couple of innings later, Pettitte's replacement, Brian Boehringer, hung a slider. Jones turned on the first and launched a home run high over the left-field wall. The second he blasted over Monument Park, taking Mickey Mantle's place as the youngest player to homer in a World Series and becoming only the second player to hit a home run in his first two Series at-bats.

Ten Gold Gloves and five All-Star teams later, Jones is trying to resurrect his career. After 13 years, it's long enough to dismiss what has happened to him over the past two seasons as a natural downslide, exacerbated by torn cartilage and subsequent surgery during that period.

But "Whatever happened to Andruw Jones?" is not an easy question to answer. And the only question that should matter to the White Sox is whether it's too late to find him.

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