Showalter won’t go back and forth unless circumstances force him to adjust the plan.
“Adam will play right and Cedric will play center,” Showalter said. “That’s the way I perceive it. Something happens with Cedric, we’ll see. If something happens with Adam. I hope nothing does.
“Adam’s playing right field today and that’s the direction we’re going tonight. Is he going to play right field the rest of the year? Yeah, as opposed to who? My plan is for Adam to play right field until he needs a day off and we’ve got some other options, without naming other guys down in Triple-A. But Adam’s playing right field. But take it each day.
“I know Trum (Mark Trumbo), try to keep him out of right field. His knee’s been barking a little bit.”
Conversations between Showalter and Jones regarding an eventual position change dated back to the off-season. It didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t sprung on Jones earlier today. He didn’t find out by reading the lineup card.
“Adam and I have been talking about it for a while,” Showalter said. “He knew. Adam’s a smart guy. One thing Adam is is he’s a really good self-evaluator and he calls it the way it is. He’s not afraid to ...
“I think it’s a real tribute to him. He’s been talking to Cedric for a while and he knew. The thing players don’t like is they don’t like something thrown at them the last second. He and I have been talking about it. It was a matter of when, not if.
“I think it’s a good environment as far as Adam being here with Cedric for him to break in. But the respect that I and we and the organization have for Adam and what he’s accomplished, I mean, this is one of the great center fielders in Orioles history if you look at where he ranks, not only with the Orioles but the game itself.”
Jones has started 1,537 games in center field with the Orioles and won four Gold Gloves, the last coming in 2014. The defensive metrics haven’t been favorable the last few years, and a move to the corner seemed inevitable.
“I know Adam’s a big fan of guys like Torii Hunter and I know he’s reached back for some of that,” Showalter said, noting how the former Twins center fielder converted to right later in his career.
“But Adam’s his own guy. He’s not going to have somebody else’s MO affect what ... You’re going to get what you get and there’s not a lot of filter there. And most of the time, he’s right.”
Mullins said he had regular conversations with Jones about his likely placement in center and had the five-time All-Star’s full support.
“We’ve been in contact,” Mullins said. “Him being the team leader, he’s been very supportive with me playing center field. We’ve had a lot of contact about it and he has guided me through that process. It’s huge coming from Adam, with 10 years under his belt. He’s been a huge veteran and team leader for all these years. Being in contact with him has been amazing.”
It also makes Showalter’s decision much easier.
“A lot, a lot,” Showalter said. “I think guys, without getting into a lot of analytical stuff, Adam’s a smart guy. He looks at things, he knows. I think he’s more interested in seeing how good a right fielder he can be. He has a lot of respect for it. They’re not the same.
“I think having Adam here, Adam’s going to try to make Cedric’s path easier instead of harder. Usually with guys like that that make it harder, they had it done to them at a young age, the kind of hazing. And you’ve got two choices when it happens. Either you make a point when you were that age to make sure ‘If I ever do that, I’m not going to be that way,’ or they take the other route. ‘What was done to me, I’m going to do it to somebody else.’ I like that other path and I think Adam’s a great source for Cedric.”
As a pending free agent, Jones can demonstrate to other clubs that he’s capable of moving off center field and perhaps increase his value on the market.
“Without a doubt,” Showalter said. “I’m not into cramming something down Adam’s throat. This is something that, we’ve had our share of talks about it and we’ve got a good relationship with it. He sent me a text today that made an old man tear up. He’s got a grip on reality and he’s engaged, and I think Adam’s going to play as long as he wants to. People are always going to want that type of energy that he brings.
“Just got to keep him out of the grounds crew shed between innings. I think you’ll see him down there at some point.”
Showalter wanted no part of any comparisons between what Mullins and Jones offer compared to other combinations this season with the latter in center.
“It’s kind of the past,” Showalter said. “This is about the future and going forward. Everything’s a work in progress. What is it, progress is always under construction? I’ve seen Cedric in spring training. I’ve seen a lot of tape, which is a big fooler. Anybody that’s evaluating players with videotape alone is asking for trouble.
“I love his calmness, I love his breaks, his closing, but that was spring training, which is actually one of the hardest times in baseball to play the outfield. Keep in mind it’s like the pitchers when they come here. There’s a different mound, there’s a different baseball, there’s different backgrounds, there’s different places. It takes a while for them to get comfortable.
“He’s going to play with a third deck. Some people think that doesn’t matter. I don’t know. I know the first time I did it was a little different look. But you can’t hide talent. Sooner or later, as Billy Martin told me one time, try as you may to screw them up, if they’re good, they’re going to be good. Just run them out there and try to create a good environment for them.”
Norfolk manager Ron Johnson passed along the news to Mullins after yesterday’s game. Mullins didn’t play in the last three due to an illness.
“R.J. called me into his office and he asked me how I was feeling because I didn’t play that day,” Mullins said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m feeling good.’ He said, ‘Guess what, you’re going to be feeling great. You’re going to the bigs.’ It kind of caught me by surprise and I’ve just been taking it all in ever since.”
Mullins will have lots of family and friends here. His father is driving from Georgia because he doesn’t like to fly. His mother and two sisters will be here, as well.
Showalter will take in the moments, the sentimental side coming out again as he gets older.
“It’s fun to watch it through their eyes, the new things,” Showalter said. “I’m so happy that he’s got someone like Adam to be there for him. It had to be the right guy. We think Cedric might be the right guy.”
A 13th-round draft pick in 2015, Mullins is the first homegrown player to join the roster since the plans to rebuild became public and veterans were traded away.
“I love the total package,” Showalter said. “If you look at doubles, you look at triples, you look at stolen bases and stolen base percentage, you look at pop, you look at runs. Cedric is an old-school bunter. He’s a guy who shows it late and you can be on top of him and he’s still got a chance. He’s made improvements from the right side of the plate. He’s gotten better each year.
“If you look at the total impactful thing, he’s got a chance to be one of those guys and he’s going to get an opportunity.”
Mullins is accustomed to batting first in minor league lineups, but he’s hitting ninth tonight. Showalter is leery of putting too much on the kid’s plate.
“I just found through the years I’d rather move a guy up than someone failing and go down,” Showalter said. “I found it’s a lot easier on them. All these young players we’re bringing up are precious commodities to me and the organization, and I’m going to treat them as diligently as I can to create the best way for them to be the players they’re capable of being. I’m hoping a week from now he’s hitting somewhere else.”
The Orioles designated veteran infielder Danny Valencia for assignment to create a roster spot for Mullins. Executive vice president Dan Duquette spoke with Valencia earlier this afternoon.
“Dan let me know that he had talked to him, and then I talked to Danny,” Showalter said. “Dan thinks something will get resolved. There was some interest in him during the trade deadline, so we’ll see where that goes.
“You would think somebody would like to have Danny. He brings a real skill people are in need of, so I would be surprised if he doesn’t land on a contending club sometime. But you can’t make somebody ... It could be after the seven days, but I think Danny will, by the end of the month, will be playing with somebody, because they definitely need to do that to make him eligible for the playoffs.
“He’s been down this road before, he kind of understands. We’ve been talking some the last few days. I think he knew there was that potential.”
The Red Sox are starting left-hander David Price in Game 1, and they brought up William Cuevas as a possibility for Game 2, depending on bullpen usage tonight. Hector Velázquez and Drew Pomeranz also are under consideration.
Outfielder Craig Gentry will play at Single-A Frederick tonight while continuing his injury rehab assignment.
“He’s not too far away,” Showalter said, referencing Gentry’s return to the active roster, not the distance between Camden Yards and the Keys’ ballpark.
On this date in 1981, Cal Ripken Jr. made his major league debut by entering as a pinch-runner for Ken Singleton in the bottom of the 12th inning and scoring the winning run on John Lowenstein’s walk-off single in a 3-2 victory over the Royals.
For the Red Sox
Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Mitch Moreland 1B
J.D. Martinez DH
Xander Bogaerts SS
Rafael Devers 3B
Brock Holt 2B
Dan Butler C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Nathan Eovaldi RHP
Update: Xander Bogaerts hit a three-run homer off Dylan Bundy with two outs in the first inning to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.
Update II: Chris Davis homered in the second inning, Mullins had an RBI double for his first major league hit and Jones came through with a two-run single to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead.
Update III: The Orioles scored four unearned runs in the third inning to lead 8-3. Mullins and Tim Beckham had RBI singles.
Bundy gave up two runs in the fourth on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s RBI triple and Caleb Joseph’s passed ball.
Update IV: The Red Sox sent 11 batters to the plate in the sixth and took an 11-8 lead. The Orioles issued five walks, two with the bases loaded. Brock Holt had a two-run single off Donnie Hart, who walked in the go-ahead run after replacing MIguel Castro.
Update V: Beckham led off the bottom of the sixth with a home run to reduce the lead to 11-9.
Update VI: Davis added a sacrfice fly in the sixth to reduce the lead to 11-10.
Update VII: Andrew Benintendi hit a three-run homer off Hart in the seventh to give Boston a 14-0 lead.