As you may recall, Jones walked into Showalter’s office before signing his own extension last summer and asked about his manager’s commitment to the organization. He didn’t doubt Showalter’s passion for winning. Jones just wanted to make sure that Showalter, startled by the question, wasn’t going to abruptly leave.
It now appears that the Orioles will tack on three more years to Showalter’s current deal, extending that commitment through the 2016 season.
“Makes me feel better about signing my deal, doesn’t it?” Jones said.
“We like each other. We both love the competition of this game. We know it’s hard and we may as well compete at the highest level.
“I think that, you know how a great player has his manager? (Derek) Jeter had (Joe) Torre. I’m not comparing myself to that grand of a relationship, but sometimes you have a player who has a manager who pushes him to become what his talent should be, and I think Show has allowed me to be myself. I think he puts trust in me that I’m going to show up every day like he does. Well, he’s there way before me and way after me. But he knows once I arrive, my head is on straight. That’s how the whole clubhouse is. We can play ping pong and all that, but our heads are all on straight. The focus is there.”
Jones pauses and reconsiders that last statement in his typical humorous fashion.
“Well,” he said, “a couple brains in there are crazy, you know?”
One of Jones’ closest friends will be missing this year. First baseman Mark Reynolds signed with the Indians as a free agent.
“He’s one of the best teammates I ever had,” Jones said. “He talks (crap). The best part about him is he’ll talk (crap) when he’s struggling and when he’s playing well and when he’s struggling again and playing well again. He’s himself every day. And he shows up every day, the same person every day.
“His locker was next to mine, as you saw, and I got an opportunity to become real close to him and J.J. (Hardy) and C.D. (Chris Davis). I’m going to miss the guy, the pranks. He was always smiling. And those blonde curly locks. He’d put water all over them so he looked like a young David Hasselhoff.”
Now I have to pause to collect myself. What a great line.
“He was a hell of a teammate and I’m going to miss him,” Jones continued. “And his defense at first base. I don’t think we go as far as we do without his defense at first. I know we had some guys with good gloves, but he picked everything. Everything. We’re going to miss that. But I’m not going to second-guess Showalter. I’m sure he has a plan, and probably one for 2014 already in his mind, too. He has a plan and we’ll just leave it in his hands. Him and Dan (Duquette) are the decision-makers.
“I’m just here knowing one thing - starting on April 2, from that day until the end, we’ll go out there and compete. No matter who wears that jersey, we’ll go out and compete.
“That’s the only for sure I can give you.”
Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from 11 a.m.-noon on MASN.
Dave Johnson is on vacation, but we found a special co-host to take his place. Be sure to check it out.