Yankees' reaction to Jahmai Jones home run proves roster decision will be tough

Houston Astros v New York Yankees
Houston Astros v New York Yankees / New York Yankees/GettyImages

If you were among the many who questioned why Yankees bench piece Jahmai Jones was tabbed to start the finale against the Tampa Bay Rays (hand is currently raised...), the man himself had a pretty strong rebuke for you in the top of the third inning on Sunday.

Jones crushed not only his first home run of the season in limited duty (six at-bats entering Sunday), but the first MLB dinger of his 26 years on earth. After the homer left the yard, he and Alex Verdugo barked soundly in one another's faces, followed by an embrace from Aaron Judge and a reported standing ovation from the Yankees' bullpen.

Clearly, Jones' hard work behind the scenes -- and role as a bench cheerleader -- has made him a unique slice of the Yankees' chemistry puzzle. To an outsider, that portion of the bench felt almost accidentally constructed, from Jones to Kevin Smith to Taylor Tammell's haphazard inclusion.

The insiders feel differently, and the decision to let Jones loose -- which could be coming when DJ LeMahieu, Oswald Peraza and Jasson Dominguez are ready to return -- might not be quite so black-and-white.

Yankees react to Jahmai Jones' home run, but how long will he hold roster spot?

It still has to occur. Unless the Yankees never get any of these key pieces back, or sour on Oswaldo Cabrera, there's really no way around the maneuver.

But Sunday's dramatic blast reminded us all that there are real people behind the box score who play roles that aren't immediately obvious to the viewing public ... until their importance becomes unmasked in moments of celebration.

Sunday's lineup, featuring a near-full slate of regulars, plus Jones (a righty against a lefty) in place of an 0-for-16 Verdugo, wasn't the "punt lineup" that many reactionary fans feared. The batting order Boone constructed did reveal an unexpected truth along the way, though. At the end of the year -- possibly by the end of May -- Jones will be a Sporcle answer to everyone but the men in that locker room.

But on Sunday, at least once, he had a very real effect on the Yankees' chances of performing well in a house of horrors, and the genuine love his teammates showed in response to his milestone blast will linger, even if Jones' presence does not.