After learning Nolan Reimold had been named AL Rookie of the Month Friday, I spoke to John "T-Bone" Shelby about the Orioles outfield. He told me, forget the future, he'd put the trio of Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Reimold up against any other outfield in the American League.
He has a point. Right now the O's outfield leads the AL with 18 outfield assists, and Shelby said he expects them to continue to dominate that category for many years to come.
In 2008 Markakis established himself and his cannon for an arm by leading the majors with 17 outfield assists. The O's right fielder currently leads the AL with eight.
This year, Jones has put his hat in the ring. He's tied for seventh in the AL with five outfield assists. Reimold has done his part with two.
It goes without saying---offensively the Orioles outfielders are a potent group. The three are batting a combined .294 with 29 homers. Not bad numbers considering Markakis and Jones have scuffled at the plate a bit lately.
Back to defense---Shelby told me Reimold has made a lot of adjustments defensively like charging in on the ball. The first base coach said it's been encouraging how Reimold has made "tremendous strides" in leftfield.
Shelby says Jones has really become a "captain" out there in center. He's taking charge. He wants to catch every ball. Shelby says it's to the point where Reimold and Markakis joke that he really wants every ball, and isn't afraid to call the other two off.
Also, Jones has developed a good mental database of American League hitters since last season and will use that knowledge to position the other outfielders. Shelby pointed out--- that is what good center fielders do, they act like a captain.
It wouldn't surprise me to see Jones' name called as the only Orioles representative at this year's All Star Game. It's up to AL team manager Joe Madden to decide which Oriole will make the team.
Something tells me we'll see all three O's outfielder at the Mid Summer Classic at some point in the future.