The modest gathering of fans during the current homestand generate the most noise when Adam Jones is introduced and steps to the plate. He hears it and provides an amusing explanation.
“I think they’re cheering louder because they don’t know anybody else,” he said with a laugh while sitting at his locker before last night’s 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays, the club-record 108th of the season.
“They don’t really know who’s in the lineup. They’re like, ‘Oh. Huh? Who?’ But to be honest with you, I just take it all in stride.”
Jones won’t allow himself to become sentimental with more games to be played.
The writing is on the wall, the floor, the ceiling and pretty much any other surface. He isn’t part of the rebuild and explained again yesterday that he refused a trade to the Phillies because he didn’t want to be part of a platoon in right field, among other reasons tied to his family and the work in the community.
“I’ve seen how people transition,” he said. “Maybe it’s just a chapter that’s closing and a new chapter can open. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think that’s part of this game.
“The city’s been great. I think at the end of it I’ve got six more home games, six more times to make that drive to the ballpark and come to the tunnel, go to my same locker, all that kind of same stuff.”
A player of Jones’ stature gets more than one locker, and they’re holding fewer possessions these days.
“I’ve gotten some of the clutter out of my locker,” he said. “I’ve had a lot, a lot of stuff here, so I got a lot of the clutter out. And like I said, just ready for the transition. At the end of the season we will see. I’ll be a free agent and we will see how that goes.”
The crowd didn’t have much of a reaction to Steve Wilkerson’s return to the lineup, but he worked hard for it, overcoming oblique and hamstring injuries after serving a 50-game suspension to start the season. Unfortunately, he’ll be remembered for the throwing error with two outs in the seventh that let two runs score and tied the game.
“It’s been a rocky season,” he said earlier in the day. “A lot of ups and downs, a lot of weird things that have happened that kept me on the table for a good number of games, so I’m really looking forward to getting back out there playing.”
Wilkerson handled third base last night, but the Orioles want to keep evaluating him at other positions.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I don’t really know the plan. I would expect to move around a little bit. I don’t know how often I’ll be playing or what role I’ll be in to finish out the year, but I would expect to probably move around a little bit at least.”
The Orioles are grooming him for a super-utility role, the need increasing if they carry a three-man bench next season. He’s fine with the idea. A bench role in the majors beats everyday life in the minors.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I’d love to be that guy for this team. I would do anything they ask me to do.
“I think that super-utility is kind of what I’ve been working on the past couple years, and I think that role would be a lot of fun.”
The Orioles know that he’s experienced in the infield, with improvement desired at shortstop, and they’d like to get more looks at him in the outfield. He also is viewed as a possible emergency catcher. They already had him working behind the plate at extended spring training.
The games are melting away and leaving manager Buck Showalter with fewer chances to evaluate him.
“We’ve got other people we need to see, too,” Showalter said before the game. “We’ve got to get Wilky going. It’s been a long road, we’ve been very cautious with him and he’s done everything you could possibly do to be ready to play. We obviously don’t have a lot of rehab games going on, but he’s been doing everything on the side - running, hitting, fielding. The next step is to play.”
And to make that throw across the infield without the bounce.
“Wilky’s better than that,” Showalter said afterward. “He made a great play there at the end, a tough play. He showed arm strength and accuracy. He’s been off for a while. He’ll be better.
“He’s a guy that will show you better things as we go forward. Tough day for him.”