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Jones thrilled working as guest instructor with Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. -- When guest instructor and 1976 National League Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones arrived at Padres camp early this month, he came with a preconceived notion that he's more than pleased to admit was incorrect.

"I have found that the players are a little more relaxed and still have fun playing the game, more than I thought," Jones said Tuesday. "I was a little worried about that. But after a couple weeks, I feel better about it. It's still a game to them. I was afraid it was getting too serious like a business."

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Jones is inching closer to the end of his two-week stint in Peoria with the team. It's the first time that he has been in Spring Training and in a full uniform since 1982, his final year in the Major Leagues, one that included an eight-year stint with the Padres (1973-80).

Jones said he's having a blast.

"It's been phenomenal," he said. "What a great experience."

After a week of watching drills and sitting in the dugout during games, Jones has progressed to making a handful of suggestions to pitchers, several who weren't even born the last time he appeared in a Major League game.

"Being around for a while, being in uniform, I think they're a little more comfortable now that I'm in my second week here," he said. "It's mostly been simple suggestions as far as approach, especially for the starters. I leave the mechanical stuff to [pitching coach] Darren Balsley, he does a great job.

"Overall, it's the mental approach where I can help them."

Jones has found at least one apt pupil in Minor League right-hander Donn Roach, a sinkerballer like Jones was during his career, when he worked fast and buried the ball in the strike zone, especially during the 1976 season when he won 22 games and the Cy Young.

But Jones isn't here to impart a do-as-I-do mantra to pitchers.

"I've been there, done that, won a Cy Young Award and I know what it takes mentally," Jones said. "And on the other side of the coin, I've lost 22 games in a season [1974]. Don't tell me I don't know both sides of the game.

"I feel like I can talk with some realism to a lot of these kids."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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