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Former New York Giant turns attention to Reds

PHOENIX -- Not many players have won college national championships in both baseball and football, but Chad Jones did it for Louisiana State and was drafted to play professionally in both sports. A left-handed pitcher, Jones was a ninth-round selection of the Reds in the Draft earlier this month.

A safety and third-round Draft pick of the New York Giants in 2010, Jones saw his football career end after a car accident where he broke his left fibula, tibia and heel. He spent more than two years trying to get back to football and had workouts with the Giants, Eagles and Saints.

"I came to the conclusion that my leg wasn't going to be up to par for football," Jones said. "I was basically stuck at 90 percent. I was fortunate to be able to play both sports. Being a left-handed pitcher, it puts not too much stress on my leg or body. When it comes to baseball, I'm 100 percent."

Jones picked up baseball again only recently, however.

"Since my accident, I just started up baseball about four months ago," Jones said Friday. "My last pitch was 2009 at the College World Series.

"I always knew I had baseball talent coming up through high school and at LSU and what I did in the College World Series. I definitely knew I had what it takes to pitch professionally."

Jones, who signed with Cincinnati shortly after being drafted, reported to the Reds' complex in Goodyear, Ariz. He has his first bullpen session Saturday. He does not know what kind of velocity he will have but said he threw 92-93 mph in college.

"I've matured and got a little stronger," said Jones, who was part of LSU football's BCS championship in 2007. "Hopefully as my arm gets a little looser, I can surpass that."

On Friday, Jones was among 61 players and staff from the AZL Reds team and player development complex on the field watching Reds batting practice. Most likely had not been in many stadiums the size of Chase Field. But Jones has played even bigger venues and been on bigger stages. He hopes to experience it again in a baseball uniform.

"Baseball is my first love," Jones said. "Football kind of took over once I started playing in front of 96,000 people at LSU with everyone chanting your name. But the College World Series was the highlight of my collegiate career. I won a national championship in football, but the College World Series was so special to me."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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