NEW YORK - Adam Jones didn’t play yesterday in the series finale at Yankee Stadium, but he contributed by bringing out the lineup card. The idea hit him and he reached out to manager Buck Showalter, who shared the same thought.
“He can have it any day he wants, trust me,” Showalter said after a 6-3 win. “It just enhances my relationship with umpires.
“No, he texted me about it (yesterday) and I said I already had it planned. He stole my thunder. He enjoyed it. He’s 1-0.”
It was a fairly productive weekend for Jones, who registered his 100th outfield assist Saturday afternoon by throwing out Miguel Andújar at second base in the second inning between solo home runs by Aaron Hicks and Luke Voit.
Jones said he wasn’t counting down to the milestone, but he became aware of it.
“I saw the other day it was on the board,” he said. “The last few months, accomplishments have been shown on the board, so I saw that I was at 99. I don’t care.
“It’s always fun to throw people out. You know what’s crazy? My first assist was at the old Yankee Stadium, so it’s cool that one and 100 were in the same city. I just thought of that, to be honest with you.”
The first assist came with Jones playing center field for the Mariners in 2006, two years before the Orioles traded for him.
“That’s when I could run like the wind,” he said.
Jones’ first assist as a right fielder came during the last homestand and he struck a pose before pumping his fist.
“I haven’t had too many throws to try to throw people out, but being in center field, I’ve always fantasized about the throws and how to make them,” he said. “Like, I don’t have the mound in my way now. I don’t have to worry about the mound. I can air it out. But it’s different now because when you throw the ball to third base, if it’s off-line, it’s definitely a run. You know what I mean?
“So it’s so many different things to throwing. How my stride length is and my aggression. I can be 20-30 feet from the infield when it’s time to actually release the ball, so I can shorten down my throw. Now center is a little bit different because you’re further just by nature, but in right field, my stride length and my aggression, I can decrease the distance because I’m long and I’m tall and I’ve got a good arm. So, it’s fun.
“Hey, I’m trying to throw out anybody. Like the play at home a couple nights ago, that’s fun.”
First base coach Wayne Kirby had 19 assists for the Indians back in 1993 - 13 in right, four in center and two in left - and jokes that a lot of third base coaches lost their jobs that year. He didn’t possess exceptional arm strength, but was quick and accurate.
“Kirby don’t want to give me no love,” Jones said, the teasing between the two relentless. “He always wants to talk about his 19 assists in right field, which is still a record. So, every time I do something like that I come up to him and go, ‘You know you love that, don’t you? You want to give me a hug and a kiss.’ And he goes, ‘Get away from me, boy.’”
Jones figures to be back in right field tonight at Fenway Park for his 30th start since moving out of center for Cedric Mullins. With a chance for career assist No. 101.
“There are so many variables that people don’t get,” Showalter said. “The runner gets an extra half-step from right field because of the time it takes for the catcher to get the ball and come back this way, whereas from left field you’re catching it in line. It’s worth half a step. That’s why right fielders very seldom lead the league in assists. I know personally. I led the league in assists because everybody ran on me. I knew I was going to get some opportunities to throw.
“The mound comes into play, which is tough. I talk to Adam a lot about the different angles and different looks. He never thought it was going to be easy. It’s like taking a guy from shortstop and asking him to play second, because of the angles and looks, the ball of the bat. Left field is completely different than right field in my mind. I played both of them. But I can guarantee you that Adam after a spring training in right field will be even better.”
The Red Sox are starting right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, which likely puts DJ Stewart in left field after he drove in two runs yesterday coming off the bench.
Stewart is 7-for-12 with three doubles, two home runs, six RBIs, a walk and four runs scored in his last five games. He’s also been hit once and stolen a base.
“He’s had some good at-bats, he’s had some baseball player at-bats,” Showalter said.
“Watching him run the bases, this guy’s engaged. If you watch it with your eyes, this isn’t something that’s here because he’s in the big leagues for the first time, he’s got all this energy and all these things. What you see between innings, what you see on the bases, what you see ... this guy’s going to do that regardless, whether there’s 10 people in the stands or whether there’s 40,000 people.
“He’s not enamored. It’s like, ‘OK, this is cool and everything, but now let me get on with business.’ He’s a baseball player. It’s fun to watch. He understands right from wrong.”