Yes, that was a reach, but stay with me here.
Adam Jones stole second base in the fifth inning of last night’s game against the Yankees, which probably seems meaningless after a 6-4, 10-inning loss that completed a sweep at Camden Yards.
More people will remember Jones for striking out with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, but I’m going to focus on the steal in this entry.
Jones took off for second after reaching on an infield hit. J.J. Hardy stood at third base, and Jones joined him in scoring position. Mark Reynolds followed with a double into left-center field that scored two runs and gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead.
Jones has swiped three bags in six games. He had 12 last season, the highest total of his major league career.
Look for Jones to keep running. Brian Roberts has been tutoring him on the art of the stolen base, as manager Buck Showalter revealed after Jones and Nick Johnson pulled off a double steal in an earlier game that also led to two runs scoring.
“He’s been in me and (Robert) Andino’s ears, because we have to play that kind of game,” Jones said of Roberts, who broke camp with the team rather than staying back at extended spring training in Sarasota.
“We’ve got to run, we’ve got to create opportunities for ourselves. We can’t sit around and wait for the home run. We’ve got to make things happen for ourselves.
“A situation like (Tuesday) night, I knew it was a tie game when I got on in the eighth inning. You’ve got to run. You’ve got to try to get into scoring position for (Matt) Wieters. I got on and I took off. It’s time to go, time to roll out.
“He’s been telling us to be aggressive like he is. He’s a heck of a baserunner. And just giving us pointers on what these guys are doing. He’s got a 95, 96 percent success rate at third base, so I kind of listen to people who are successful at things.”
Roberts is passing along information to Jones and Andino that could enable them to get better jumps against certain pitchers.
“Just their pattern, sequences,” Jones said. “Everybody gets in patterns, so it’s just figuring out what kind of pattern they’re involved in. Everything is timing. Just figuring out what’s going on and making sure you get a good jump.
“It’s definitely not about being the fastest and fleetest of foot. If you get a great jump ... you see Albert Pujols gets 15 bags, 20 bags a year based on he just knows when to run. With more speed, me and ‘Dino, obviously the attention’s on us a little more, but there’s still spots where there’s great times to run, and there are times when you have to risk it.”
It doesn’t matter that Jones is batting cleanup.
“I need to run no matter what,” he said. “I can run, so I think I need to push the envelope. And with a hitter like Wieters, who does drive the ball, if he gets a base hit, I’m going to score for him. I’ve got hitters behind me.
“I hope that pitchers think, ‘Oh, he’s a cleanup hitter now,’ so they give me the 1.5 or 1.6 (to the plate)and I can pull off some cheap bags. And it can help Wieters because, if I’m on base and I’m running and being successful, they have to throw him more fastballs, and he can hit the heck out of a fastball. It helps out. Just like with Roberts. Ask (Nick) Markakis, those years he had 100 RBIs, he had him and (Corey Patterson) in front of him. You’ve got to throw fastballs or they’re going to steal second and third all day on you. It’s a tradeoff. If the pitchers try to be quicker to home, it can help him.”
Does Jones like batting fourth?
“Yeah,” he said, smiling. “I don’t mind it.”
Jones said he has no idea whether the Orioles and his agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, are engaged in talks about a contract extension.
“I think both sides are interested,” he said. “If they want to talk about it, let them talk. I’m playing baseball. I let them do what they have to do.
“I told my agent, once the season starts, if something’s important, bring it to me. If it’s not, you don’t need to talk to me about it.”
Note: Pitcher Dontrelle Willis was placed on the disabled list today with a strained left forearm. Pitchers Miguel Gonzalez and Kyler Newby have been added to Norfolk’s roster from extended spring training. Infielder Zelous Wheeler has been assigned to Double-A Bowie.