Dodgers release Jones
Heralded as the answer to the Dodgers' power-hitting void when he signed his rich two-year contract in December 2007, Jones was injured part of last season and was mostly ineffective otherwise, hitting only .158 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 75 games.
"Obviously, this is a disappointing day for both us and Andruw, as we all had high hopes for him when he signed last year given his track record and everything that we had seen from him in the past and heard about him," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said in a statement. "I know that Andruw is also very disappointed in the way things turned out and the best thing to do at this point is to turn the page and we wish him well."
The 31-year-old center fielder reported to spring training overweight and then was booed roundly by fans as he struggled at the plate during the season. He had knee surgery in May and finished the season on the bench as the Dodgers won the NL West and beat the Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Championship Series.
Jones asked to be traded after that and the Dodgers tried but found no takers. The Dodgers owe Jones $22.1 million, which he'll receive over the next six years.
When the Dodgers added Manny Ramirez in a trade deadline deal July 31, that left Jones with minimal opportunities. But with the staggering performance by Ramirez (.396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games) and the fine work of fellow outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, Jones was hardly missed.
Jones came to Los Angeles as a five-time All-Star who had won 10 straight Gold Gloves with the Atlanta Braves and as one of 10 players in baseball history to hit 300 homers before the age of 30. He had 342, tying him with Mel Ott and Henry Aaron for the sixth-youngest player to reach that milestone.
Jones, signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Braves in July 1993, made his big league debut on Aug. 14, 1996, as a 19-year-old rookie and hit .400 with two homers and six RBIs in the World Series against the New York Yankees.
He became a regular the following season and took off in 2000, hitting a career-best .303 with 36 homers and 104 RBIs.
Jones hit .263 with a career-high 51 homers and 128 RBIs in 2005 and .262 with 41 homers and a career-best 129 RBIs in 2006. He dipped to a career-low .222 with 26 homers and 94 RBIs in his final year with the Braves, perhaps a tipoff as to what was to come with the Dodgers.
He came to Los Angeles having hit at least 25 homers in 10 straight seasons, only the 14th player to accomplish such a feat. He also played in 1,730 games between 1997 and 2007, never once going on the disabled list.
Jones attended the Duke-Georgia Tech basketball game in Atlanta wearing a Braves cap on Wednesday night. There has been speculation the Braves might be interested in bringing Jones back because they need another outfielder. He will enter next season with 371 homers and 1,131 RBIs in 1,836 games.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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