SEATTLE -- Garrett Jones admits transitioning to a part-time role has been difficult.
The New York Yankees backup right fielder and first baseman has been a sporadic presence in the lineup through the first 53 games of the season after being traded by the Miami Marlins to New York as part of a multiplayer deal last December.
So it was slightly more satisfying Tuesday when he delivered the go-ahead, three-run homer in the 11th inning of the Yankees' 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. It came with two outs on a 2-0 fastball from Mariners left-hander Joe Beimel.
Not bad for a guy who’s biggest moment in pinstripes before that might have come in late May at Yankee Stadium when he pitched 2/3 of a scoreless inning in a 15-4 loss to the Texas Rangers.
"That felt very good," Jones said of his second homer in 2015 after the Yankees improved to 28-25 and clinched a series win in Seattle. "I’ve had some at-bats off [Beimel] and some battles and he’s always been a tough at-bat, especially lefty on lefty. I was just going up there and wanted to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on something."
Jones, 33, played at least 144 games in each of the past five seasons. The Tinley Park, Illinois, product has appeared in less than half of New York’s games in 2015. He’s started just 11 times. With regulars blocking him at first, right field and designated hitter, Jones was recently mentioned in the New York Post as a potential trade chip.
He’s trying, in his words, to "make the most" of his new role, but learning hasn’t been easy. After two months trying, he’s finally feeling at ease.
"Just know what my purpose and spot on the team is going to be and just try to do the best I can at it," he said of what he’s changed over the past few weeks. "Right now I think I feel comfortable with the routine and mentally feel in a better place in the spot I’m in."
In Tuesday’s win, he replaced left fielder Chris Young in the eighth inning, then went 2-for-3 with a run to improve his batting average to .254. The go-ahead homer was just his third extra-inning blast in eight big league seasons and his first since 2011.
"The last two weeks, he’s swung the bat really well," said manager Joe Girardi. "We’ve got him going, and he has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. ... He knows Beimel. He’s seen Beimel. He had an idea of his pitches."