During the resurgence of the Minnesota Twins’ organization in the early 2000s, many of the key contributors were young players. These players had come through the minor leagues together and had entered the big leagues together. The players had a special type of chemistry and toughness about them and never took anything for granted, which is rare in today’s game.
All of the players who can be credited with turning around the franchise, such as Torii Hunter, A.J Pierzynski, Brad Radke, Cristian Guzman, Corey Koskie and Doug Mientkiewicz, are entering the twilight of their career or have retired from the game altogether.
One player may have best represented the new Twins’ mantra of youthful talent during their resurgence and he was not included in the list above. This player may have been out of the spotlight, but his contributions and character were nothing short of memorable. That player is none other than Jacque Jones.
Jones debuted in 1999 for the Twins and spent seven seasons with the Twins, when the team won three American League Central titles from 2002-2004. During those seasons, he was a huge contributor for the Twins as a corner outfielder and leadoff hitter. He had his best season with the Twins in 2002, when he hit .300 with 27 HR and 85 RBI over 149 games.
For his career with the Twins, Jones hit .279 with 132 HR and 476 RBI over 976 games. He signed a minor league contract to finish his career with the Twins in February of 2010, but failed to make the roster out of spring training.
Since retiring from baseball, Jones has not strayed far from the game he loves. In 2011, he was named the hitting instructor for the Fort Wayne TinCaps, which are the Class A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. He continues to coach within the Padres organization, but was recently promoted to Double-A San Antonio where he will again take over as hitting instructor.
It is good to see Jones moving through the coaching ranks and sharing his knowledge and love of the game with a younger generation. There is no doubt in my mind that those players are benefiting daily from his knowledge and understanding of the game. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him continue to move his way through the minor league system and one day make it as a big league hitting coach. Regardless of the level he coaches at, one thing is certain: the Padres found a hidden gem in the coaching ranks when they signed him.
While it would make my day to see Jones return to the Twins, in some capacity or another, it seems that Jones is content where he is at in his career. For a player who played with so much pride and enthusiasm, it is satisfying to see their hard work pay off in their post-baseball careers. From a blogger’s perspective, I wish Jones nothing but the best as he continues on in his coaching career.
Jones may not see it now, but the writing is on the wall for his coaching career and the message is simple: come back to Minnesota.