6/3/2014 1:20 A.M. ET
Making brief homecoming, Jones has sparked Seattle
By Jake Kring-Schreifels / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Mariners center fielder James Jones missed his homecoming when Seattle made its annual trip to New York in late April. He was still in Triple-A Tacoma, and the Brooklyn native was called up just days later to play in Oakland. But when the middle game of the Yankees series was rained out, Jones knew he'd get another opportunity if he stayed with the club.
"I know a couple of guys were probably not too happy about the rainout," Jones said. "But luckily it bounced my way to play in front of my family and friends."
Jones went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in Monday's 10-2 victory.
After swapping places with Abraham Almonte in Tacoma, Jones has made the most of his time in a Mariners uniform. Since taking over center field in early May, the rookie has hit .276 and showed off his dynamic speed, chasing down fly balls and legging out a couple of triples and five stolen bases.
"He's been fantastic," said manager Lloyd McClendon of Jones, who tallied a 14-game hit streak in May. "He's ignited our offense at the top of the order. He's getting on base, he's playing good defense. He's got the ability to stretch the field both offensively and defensively. He's been very nice for us."
A native of Crown Heights, right where Ebbets Field stood, Jones -- who said his mother, sister, trainer and a few close friends would be in attendance Monday -- graduated from Long Island University-Brooklyn. He played outfield but also pitched, the tool that attracted most Major League scouts.
"Not good," Jones said of his pitching skills. "I just threw hard, I didn't have a lot of other stuff to go with it. The Mariners were the only ones to have me take BP, but everywhere else just had me throw a bullpen, and then I was done. I think over at Yankee Stadium I hit somebody [laughing]."
Seattle is now reaping the rewards of other teams' oversight while Jones is taking advantage of the team's older players, like outfielder Endy Chavez, helping his transition to the big leagues.
"Endy Chavez has helped me a lot, especially when I was in Triple-A and big league camp also," Jones said. "He helped me a lot with baserunning, but most importantly defensively. Reading swings has helped me a ton."
"He's good. He's a smart player ... and he brings a lot of energy to the team," said Chavez, believing Jones reminds him of his younger self. "The energy, the hustle, he reminds me of those times."
Chavez, along with veterans Willie Bloomquist and Robinson Cano, have made his first month as a pro very smooth.
"It's surreal," Jones said. "It's a great bunch of guys, a group that helped me transition well. They've just made it easy for me."
Cano makes return to lineup at Yankee Stadium
NEW YORK -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon inserted Robinson Cano back into the three spot in the lineup against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Monday after the lefty slugger had missed four games due to a hand bruise. Cano never mentioned a specific instance for the injury, but he indicated he was in pain during his final swings against the Angels last week.
"He felt a lot better today," said McClendon. "I'm not sure if he's going to wear a little thumb guard or not, that's what most guys do."
"I'm feeling much better," said Cano. "I've been feeling good the whole year, and the team was going the right way, but like I say, it's part of the game. So I'm just going to put my head down and continue to play."
When Cano's hitting isn't the focal point, his durability is. This minor stint on the bench was his first time sitting out for more than three games in a season since 2006, when a hamstring bugged him with the Yankees. He played in 122 games that year. Every year after, he played in at least 159.
"It's been terrible. I hate to watch the game," he said. "I don't want to aggravate it and make it worse trying to just force it. It's really hard to just sit down for a game and just watch the game."
Monday's makeup game marked a second return to the Bronx for Cano, who faced his fair share of boos from the crowd in the first series. Returning to the lineup for another reunion, though, wasn't Cano's biggest priority.
"Here or anywhere is the same thing," he said. "We want to win. It doesn't matter if it's here or anywhere else. I always want to play."
Cano went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a pair of walks in the Mariners' 10-2 win Monday. He was also caught stealing second base, when Yankees starter David Phelps picked him off.
Cano's 53 games with the Mariners haven't provided the same home run numbers he had in pinstripes, which most people expected would dwindle in spacious Safeco Field. After five straight seasons of at least 25 homers in New York since 2009, he has slugged only two for Seattle.
Still, Cano's run production remains on par, with 31 RBIs, and he is currently carrying a batting average of .327.
"I'm not a home run guy. You play here, you take advantage of the short porch," said Cano of Yankee Stadium. "It's nothing that I worry about, I just go up there and do my job."
Bronx first stop in quirky road trip for Mariners
NEW YORK -- Before returning home to face New York, the Mariners face a strange series of games, opponents and sleep schedules on the East Coast.
After flying through the night to New York since taking a series victory over Detroit at home, Seattle will travel to Atlanta after Monday's makeup game against the Yankees. After two games in Atlanta, the Mariners will head further south for a concluding four-game set in St. Petersburg. They'll get one of the two June off-days on Thursday preceding the Rays series.
"It's weird travel," said Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak. "[New York] for a day, Atlanta for basically a day and a half. Finally [we] get an off-day in [St. Petersburg]. We're on a stretch of 36 in 37 days, so it's definitely not easy. You've just got to battle and grind through it."
• Taijuan Walker (right shoulder impingement) made his first rehab start on Wednesday with Triple-A Tacoma, pitching three innings and allowing two home runs. McClendon said he would make another start Tuesday night in El Paso.
• McClendon said before Monday's game that Erasmo Ramirez will be called up to start against the Braves on Tuesday and will likely make the announcement Tuesday after talking with general manager Jack Zduriencik.
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.