EDITORS’ NOTE: BP Sports columnist Tim Ellsworth was in Florida last week to cover spring training as baseball players get ready to begin a new season. This is the third in a series of stories BP will publish over the next several days.
JUPITER, Fla. (BP)–His teammates may be out after games going to popular night spots, but you won’t find Florida Marlins pitcher Todd Jones there.
That’s because Jones knows how serious of a temptation women can be.
“I don’t put myself in those situations because I don’t know how I’d react,” Jones said. “I just try to stay out of the situations — stay in my room, play a lot of Xbox, eat a lot of room service. That’s how I live, because I love my family. I love my wife, and I don’t want to do anything stupid.”
The measures Jones takes don’t come just from a devotion to his family. They also come from his devotion to God. As a Major League Baseball player, Jones wants to do his best to live a godly life, and he knows sexual sins don’t have any place there.
“Like any other guy, women are probably the biggest stumbling block,” he said.
Jones and his wife have been married for 15 years, and Jones has remained faithful to her.
“Still, there are things you come across” as a baseball player, especially on the road, he said. “You’ve got to be careful.”
Jones is in his first season with the Marlins. He spent most of last year with the Reds before being traded to Philadelphia late in the season. He’s already established himself as one of the team’s chapel and Bible study leaders.
He says his role as a Christian and a baseball player isn’t really that different from anyone in another walk of life, but adds that his status may give him a greater opportunity to talk to others about his beliefs.
“We have a better opportunity to witness to people,” Jones said. “We can witness to the public because of the fact that I play with pretty cool people, people like Carlos Delgado and Dontrelle Willis. I can get to the public like that, by being a professional ballplayer.”
Jones can also witness to his teammates because of the sheer amount of time he spends around them during the season. They can see how he lives his life and where his priorities are, he said.
This season, especially, Jones has made a commitment to be more accountable for everything he does — from how he talks to how he handles adversity on and off the field. Jones isn’t one to go around preaching to his teammates on a regular basis, but he’s hopeful that his actions will draw them to him and give him the opportunity to talk about Christ.
“The people that you’re going to have the opportunity to influence are going to come to you,” he said. “They’re going to ask you. They’re going to see a difference in me.”
Tim Ellsworth is director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. He writes a weekly column on sports and faith for BP Sports.