New coaching-box emphasis ‘going to be an adjustment’ for Jones

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Third base coach Gary Jones with Kyle Schwarber during the World Series last fall.

MESA, Ariz. — Gary Jones picked his spot for self-preservation reasons as much as anything, stationing himself farther into foul territory and a little toward the on-deck circle from his third-base coaching box.

“I wasn’t trying to gain an advantage,” he said. “The only reason I did it was to try to protect myself as far as getting hit by a batted ball from a right-handed hitter.”

Now an amendment to major-league rules emphasizes the coaching-box restriction, mandating coaches stay roughly in the boxes before the ball is put in play. How vigorously umpires enforce it — or how severe the penalty might be — remains to be determined.

An apparent goal is to keep a base coach from stealing catching signs, though Jones said it’s hard to be sure of that because MLB officials never talked to him or, apparently, other coaches.

“The only thing that disappointed me is if I was one of the guys that it was changed for, they didn’t ask me why I stood down there,” he said. “I don’t know if they assumed that I was trying to take advantage or something like that, which I wasn’t. My whole purpose was for safety reasons.”

That issue was spotlighted 10 years ago when Mike Coolbaugh, a first-base coach in the Rockies’ system, was killed after being hit by a line drive in a minor-league game.

Gary Jones

Gary Jones

“Obviously, I’m working on it now in spring training because it’s kind of a different angle for me not being able to get down as far as I would like sometimes,” Jones said.

“It’s going to be an adjustment. The biggest adjustment is just going to be once the ball is hit, scrambling to get down the line where I normally would get to create that angle that I like to have.”

Notes: Shortstop Addison Russell was scratched from the lineup Sunday because of the bruise he suffered near his left elbow when he was hit by a pitch Saturday. Manager Joe Maddon said Russell wanted to play and likely would have if it was the regular season, but Maddon chose not to push it. “There’s nothing to it,” he said.

•After being sidelined four games with a sore back, first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be in the lineup Monday against the Angels, Maddon said, a day earlier than earlier anticipated.

•The Cubs have scheduled a “B” game against the Angels on Thursday morning on Field 1 of their practice facility.

•Maddon said his “Respect Bald” charity event Saturday involving mostly players and other team personnel having their heads shaved is expected to total more than $70,000 in donations, which he said will benefit Banner Cardon Children’s Hospital in Arizona.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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