DENVER -- With one swing, Andruw Jones...

Times Staff Writer

DENVER -- With one swing, Andruw Jones took one huge step forward. And with another, he took a massive one back.

In the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies Wednesday, Jones drove in James Loney with a double.

A double to right-center.

“That’s what he’s been working on,” Manager Joe Torre said of the Dodgers’ $36-million center fielder with a .166 average and 12 runs batted in.


But Jones’ final at-bat, which came in the eighth inning, was like many of his at-bats this season. He went to the plate with one out, men on second and third and the Dodgers trailing by two runs.

Putting the ball in play would’ve likely brought the Dodgers to within a run, but Jones failed to do even that, fouling back a high two-strike fastball and then striking out on a slider in the dirt that had to be blocked by Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba.

“I’ve been getting some tough pitches to hit,” Jones said.

Jones is working with hitting coach Don Mattingly and roving hitting instructor Jeff Pentland on staying inside of the ball instead of trying to pull it, something they are telling him will fix his balance problems.


Jones, who cut short a minor league rehabilitation assignment to rejoin the Dodgers when Juan Pierre hurt his knee, is hitting .167 (eight for 48) since his activation on July 4.

Jones said he wasn’t concerned that Pierre’s anticipated return this weekend could cut his playing time.

Let’s play three

Third baseman Andy LaRoche started his third consecutive game as part of Torre’s effort to get him more at-bats.

LaRoche said he felt better than he had all season in the Dodgers’ loss Tuesday night, when he was one for two with a walk. LaRoche says he has been doing tee work with Mattingly, who is trying to get him to wait for the ball to come to him instead of moving toward it.

LaRoche had mixed results Wednesday, singling in Jeff Kent in his first at-bat but recording outs in his next three, including a strikeout that followed Jones’ in the eighth.

LaRoche, 24, says he’s aware of his name floating around in trade rumors but that he has learned to ignore it.

“The last four years, it’s been like that,” he said. “I’m used to that. Obviously, I’d like to stay in L.A., but I don’t think I have a no-trade clause in my contract.”


Short hops

Torre said he expected the Dodgers to make a deal before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but also said he thought it was unlikely the team would be involved in any kind of blockbuster deal. . . . The Dodgers appear to be unwilling to meet Baltimore’s high asking price for closer George Sherrill. . . . Pentland will remain with the Dodgers indefinitely to help Mattingly. . . . Backup catcher Danny Ardoin started in place of Russell Martin, but Martin pinch-hit for him in the seventh and caught the rest of the game.