Terry Jones: "I just want to play"

Terry Jones: "I just want to play"

It was the summer of 2004 and Terry Jones was playing chauffeur for some players parents going to a Clearwater Threshers away game. Normally, Jones would have been on the field, but a fractured heel had him behind the wheel of a car instead. He never let on that he was a player, let alone a fourth round pick and one of the better prospects in the Phillies' organization.

There is always a smile on Terry Jones' face and that's what makes him stand out in a crowd. On Wednesday, he was taking in a Clearwater Threshers game in Clearwater. It's a game that had all gone right, Jones would have never seen because he would have put his time at Clearwater well behind him by now.

Since 2001, Jones has suffered a hernia, sciatic nerve problems, a broken foot, a broken heel, a pitch to the face and now, a rotator cuff injury.

Other than that, he's been doing well.

"2003 was great. I got to play everyday and had a great time," remembers Jones. It's a typical response from the 22 year old third base prospect. Jones hit .240 with 11 homeruns and 66 RBI for the Lakewood BlueClaws in '03 and the hope was that the injury bug had left him alone and that he would be on his way to the majors. By now, he would be at Reading and possibly pushing for a promotion to AAA Scranton. After all, Jones was one of the top prospects in the organization and his ascent figured to be pretty quick.

When you do the math, Jones was on the perfect approach for the Phillies. With David Bell having one more season left on his contract and Jones likely seeing at least some time at AAA this season, he was in line to start at third base for the Phillies in 2007. Instead, the Phillies have spent the past couple of days drafting a number of third base prospects, in hopes of finding someone to equal Jones' potential that he showed when he was drafted in 2001.

It will likely be October until Jones can even throw after undergoing a right labrum and rotator cleanup operation back in April. "I'm doing well and I think I'm actually a little ahead of schedule. I may be able to throw in September, but there is no reason to rush that," reports Jones. "I will be allowed to play at least a little in the instructional league this fall.

The rehab is non-stop. "It gets boring. Very repetative just pulling on tubing for three hours a day to strengthen my shoulder," said Jones. "I generally hide out inside and stay out of the heat. They don't let me out much."

Another reason why Jones doesn't watch many Threshers games is because of how hard it is to simply watch. "It is fun to watch games but hard also, makes me want to play even more," admits Jones.

Instead of watching games, Jones has further indulged in his passion for English Bull Dogs. "I actually just got two six month old female bull dogs Abbey and Chloe to go with my older male dog and I want to be able to breed them. My mom is going to take care of one of the girls when I am able to get it home to her," explained Jones. "I am flying home for my sister's graduation from Cal Poly Pomoma and for Father's Day but can not take the dog because of the temperature being over 70 degrees and it's dangerous to fly the dog in the cargo area."

Visits with the family are meaningful since Jones' mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in October of 1991. It's a disease that has affected the entire family and Jones is doing what he can to help, including showing support for him mom by wearing a red rubber bracelet. "It's for the National MS foundation. My mom was diagnosed with MS on her birthday in 1991, so I like to support the MS foundation."

While Jones has suffered through a myriad of injuries literally from his head to his heel, he's still young enough to have an impact down the road for the Phillies. He's still young enough to dream and think about where he might be if not for baseball. "I would be graduating from college about now," says Jones. And as for what job he would pursue if baseball were out of the question? "I always wanted to play basketball or work for the Lakers somehow."

While a career in basketball may not be likely, there truly is still time for Jones to regroup and overcome the obstacles that have been thrown in his way. After all, there isn't much left for him to injure. The smile never fades and even with the previous injuryies, Jones looks healthy and happy; he just wants to get better so he can play again.

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