Marlins hope Jones can get in a groove

Marlins hope Jones can get in a groove

MIAMI -- Fans are seeing signs from time to time of what Garrett Jones can do in the middle of the Marlins' order. What Jones and the Marlins are looking for is consistency.

The Marlins are counting on Jones to offer protection in the cleanup spot behind Giancarlo Stanton. Manager Mike Redmond regularly bats the 32-year-old first baseman fourth against right-handed starters, and fifth or lower against lefties.

In the first two weeks, Jones' slash line is .230/.314/.361. He obviously wants the batting average to be higher, and he's drawing walks (eight), but he's striking out a lot (24 times).

Still, he offers power from the left side, and he has two homers, two doubles and eight RBIs in his first 16 games.

"A lot of times it's just confidence," Redmond said. "It's maybe one or two good games, and then all of a sudden, you take off. This guy is a big part of our team. We need him to produce and drive in runs in the middle of that order. He understands that."

Three times in his career, Jones has belted more than 20 homers in a season. But his past few seasons in Pittsburgh, he was used mostly in a platoon situation.

When the Marlins signed him as a free agent, they made it clear the first baseman would get an opportunity to play full-time. The feeling being, if he gets 500 at-bats, Jones could approach the 20-homer, 70-RBI plateau.

It's still a process, as he's working with hitting coach Frank Menechino.

"He's still working his swing out," Redmond said. "I know he's worked really hard with Frank. Not just on his swing, but his approach and staying aggressive on the fastball. I have seen some really good swings."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter