Andruw homers in first at-bat with Yanks

Andruw homers in first at-bat with Yanks

Andruw homers in first at-bat with Yanks
NEW YORK -- In his prime with the Atlanta Braves, Andruw Jones used to come into seasons realistically expecting to belt at least 30 homers and drive in 100 runs, playing in 150 or more games.

At this stage of his career, Jones is carrying more tempered expectations. Signed by the Yankees to provide a power threat against left-handed pitching, the 33-year-old contributed with his first crack in Tuesday's 5-4 loss, homering off the Twins' Brian Duensing.

"It feels good, getting the first hit and the first home run out of the way right away," Jones said. "You settle yourself down a little bit and just let the game come to you. If you look around, we're doing our jobs. We've just got to keep pushing."

Jones became the 13th Yankees player in the post-expansion era (since 1961) to homer in his first at-bat with the team. Curtis Granderson last did it on April 4, 2010, at Fenway Park.

Jones hit .230 with 19 homers and 48 RBIs in 107 games for the White Sox last season, though he posted a .931 OPS against left-handed pitching, hitting .256 (22-for-86) with eight homers and 23 RBIs against lefties.

"If you look at what he did against left-handers last year, he's extremely productive," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game. "He's got a lot of power in his bat, and he stole some bases [nine]."

Taking over the role that Marcus Thames filled last season for the Yankees as a masher to threaten lefties, Jones said that his main objective for 2011 is to stay consistent offensively.

"You keep working on things you need to work on to stay focused and have a good approach going to the plate," Jones said. "I think through the years, going out there and playing every day was different. You knew if you don't get it done today, you're going to be in the lineup tomorrow, so you can do it tomorrow.

"Knowing you're not going to be in the lineup tomorrow, you've got to wake up one more day and make a difference."

Jones hasn't hit above .270 since he was on the Braves in 2003, one of his five All-Star seasons, but he said that he is using that number as one of his goals for 2011.

"If it's .270, .280, that's good," Jones said. "I just make sure I'm driving the runs in when there's people on base. I think that will be fine."

With Jones wedging into the lineup as the left fielder, Girardi allowed Brett Gardner -- with two hits in 15 at-bats coming in -- to take the evening off, though he later entered as a defensive replacement and went 0-for-1 to lower his average to .175.

Girardi said that Curtis Granderson might get the day off Thursday, when Jones plays against Minnesota lefty Francisco Liriano.

"The one thing you want to do is you want to get Andruw Jones going the way we did last year with Marcus," Girardi said. "We put Marcus in there against lefties early. We believe that both of our lefties, [Gardner and Granderson], can hit lefties, but you don't want a guy to go two weeks without playing."