PITTSBURGH -- Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of Garrett Jones' debut with the Pirates after a 159-game stint in which he had 31 home runs, 91 RBIs and 78 runs.
Twenty-one of those home runs came last season, when the then-28-year-old became just the second rookie in Major League history to hit 20 or more homers after June 30.
"I just was happy to get the second chance and get the opportunity to get up here and have a chance to play," Jones said. "I just was thrown in the lineup and got an opportunity to play every day, and as a player, that's all you can ask for. I was just happy for that opportunity, was just trying to make the most of it and not worrying about the future too much. Just trying to take it game to game and play my best and just see what happens."
What happened was one stretch last July that saw him hit home runs in four consecutive games, including a Major League-leading 10 in his first month with the Pirates. He hit two home runs on Opening Day this year, cementing his role in the cleanup spot.
Jones, whose only Major League experience before being promoted to the Pirates was a 31-game stint with the Twins in 2007, recently went on a career-high 12-game hitting streak that ended June 23. He is currently second on the Pirates with a .284 batting average, up from .256 on June 8.
"I think there was a little mechanical flaw in there earlier in the season," Jones said of his swing. "I think I was trying too hard to hit a home run with every pitch, and really just getting myself out and not just taking what the pitcher was giving you."
Now, Jones said, he has smoothed his swing out, turning what were ground balls and flyouts earlier in the season into line drives that are falling for base hits.
"I think it was more just a mental change of what my approach is at the plate," Jones said.