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Jones comes up big when opportunity knocks

SEATTLE -- The opportunities came less frequently than Garrett Jones expected through the first two months of the season, but the slugger still showcases big league power from the left side of the plate, which can provide a helpful asset for the Yankees to call upon.

That was the case on Tuesday, as Jones entered as an eighth-inning pinch-hitter and was still in the game three frames later, when he launched a go-ahead, three-run home run to right field off Joe Beimel, lifting the Yanks to a 5-3 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

"It feels great, man," Jones said. "Just seeing the team all smiles and just being able to contribute to the win, it was a battle today. It's just nice to help the team win and get in there and just deliver."

Jones' playing time, or lack thereof, has been tied to Alex Rodriguez's better-than-expected production as a designated hitter. Because the Yanks didn't know what to expect from Rodriguez this year, they acquired Jones as an insurance policy of sorts, figuring that he could DH against some righties and back up at first base.

Rodriguez has shown manager Joe Girardi no reason to take him out of the lineup, and Mark Teixeira has been healthy and productive at first, so Jones has been left to fight for scraps -- Tuesday's homer, his second of the season, came in just his 62nd plate appearance of the year.

Jones said that it has required some mental preparation to adjust to a part-time role -- he logged 496 at-bats last year in 146 games for the Marlins -- but he is getting there.

"I'm not trying to do too much; just know what my purpose and spot on the team is going to be and try to do my best at it," Jones said. "Just make the most of it. It's been a transition, but right now, I feel comfortable and have come up with a routine, and just mentally feel in a lot better place in the spot I'm in."

In the 11th, with the Mariners summoning Beimel from the bullpen, Jones wandered back to assistant hitting coach Alan Cockrell at the top dugout step and went over a laminated sheet of the hurler's tendencies, splits and the like.

Jones knew Beimel fairly well, having played together in Pittsburgh, but that preparation helped him make the most of the moment.

"It's not easy. He's had a couple of big three-run homers lately," Girardi said. "He's gotten it going, and he's got the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark, and that's what we want."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
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