Is Jones cleaning up? (O’s lead 5-1)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Jake Arrieta threw 28 pitches in the top of the first inning today, only 14 for strikes. He allowed two hits and walked a batter, and the Orioles quickly trailed the Nationals 1-0.

Arrieta’s fastball was mostly 94 mph. I saw him hit 95 with at least one pitch.

The Orioles tied the game in the bottom half on two-out singles by Wilson Betemit, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. Jones was thrown out at the plate after Betemit scored.

Jones reached on an infield hit. He’s batting fourth again today, which seems like a good spot for a player who began the day hitting .353/.389/.647 and leads the club with three homers and 10 RBIs.

Manager Buck Showalter isn’t ready to anoint Jones the Orioles’ cleanup hitter in 2012, but I’d expect him to be slotted there on opening day.

“Jonesy can hit in a lot of places and he’s one of our options,” Showalter said. “The first thing is you’ve got to find somebody who wants to. That’s part of it, too. But Adam’s got a lot of want-to in him. He’s going to do what’s best for us and he’s an option for us.”

Showalter also said J.J. Hardy could bat anywhere from first to seventh. He’d prefer to avoid the leadoff spot.

“I’m really going to stay away from the one hole if I can,” Showalter said. “In a perfect world, you’d be able to get in that second tier, but he may have graduated a little bit.

“I think you’re going to see J.J. hit in a lot of different places, depending on the lineup. With the flexibility we now have without the DH being completely boxed up, we’re going to be able to do some things to take advantage of some of the matchups we have over the course of the season, where we might move some guys around and get the people up who may have had some success off a particular pitcher.”

Update: Jones also singled in the third inning, when the Orioles scored four times off Edwin Jackson to take a 5-1 lead.

Wilson Betemit’s second single of the day scored Robert Andino. Jones singled and Matt Wieters hit an opposite-field three-run homer.

Jake Arrieta has retired seven batters in a row. He’s thrown 48 pitches, 24 for strikes, through three innings.

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