Staking out T-Bone

Josh Bell went 2-for-5 with a double and RBI last night in the Phoenix Desert Dogs’ 12-3 win over Scottsdale. He’s batting .317.

Matt Angle (.278) was 1-for-3 with an RBI, walk and two runs scored. Brandon Waring (.257) was 0-for-4 with an RBI in his final game in the AFL.

I placed a call to Orioles first base coach John “T-Bone” Shelby yesterday because it seemed appropriate to get his thoughts on Adam Jones winning the Gold Glove. Shelby has been working with him since spring training 2008 and is largely responsible for Jones’ improvement.

We all remember how Jones misplayed the first ball hit to him in the first intra-squad game, and how we thought, “This is a five-tool player?”

Jones called Shelby shortly after Major League Baseball announced the results.

“I didn’t believe it,” Shelby said. “Then he just kept going on and on. He always kids around, but when I realized it was for real, I was very excited. I told him it’s a tremendous accomplishment because usually it’s the same guys in that fold. Not saying those guys don’t deserve it, but it’s a real hard thing to crack.

“I was reading last night where, I guess, there were some negative comments about him, but I always told Jonesy if he kept working hard, one day he’d be a Gold Glove winner. I didn’t think it would be this year, but I think with the strides he’s made, he deserves one. And I see him all the time.”

Some people tend to forget that Jones began his professional career as a shortstop, so he was still getting comfortable in the outfield when the Orioles acquired him from the Mariners in the infamous Erik Bedard trade. It’s been a process.

“He always had the talent and ability,” Shelby said. “He was always a good player. But he didn’t really have a lot of outfield experience. So the first year we worked together, I’d talk to him a lot.

“He’s one of those players that when you tell him something, he catches on very quickly and you don’t have to go over it with repetitions. That’s what I found during that first year with him. I would tell him things he was doing in the outfield and we didn’t necessarily have to go out and take a lot of fly balls and ground balls. We basically did most of our work in batting practice, working on fundamentals, and he’d catch on. Footwork, getting behind the ball, getting in proper position to throw the ball.”

Jones’ leadership skills, which also are developing, began to show earlier this year.

“He came into spring training and said he wanted to be the one to move the outfielders,” Shelby said. “To me, that speaks volumes. A lot of guys don’t want to take control, especially when they’re that young and you’re not sure if the other guys are going to respect you. But on balls hit to the left or right, because he was the center fielder and called for the ball, they let him have it.

“I saw tremendous strides. He picked up on those things that we worked on, and it seemed like everything came natural. He feels like an outfielder now, more than that first year.”

I’ll have more from Shelby later, including the debate on whether Jones plays too shallow.

blog comments powered by Disqus