ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter met with Adam Jones to explain the outfielder’s absence from the lineup, which is expected to continue through Sunday’s series finale against the Rays.
Showalter indicated that Jones will play again this month. Jones, meanwhile, said he’s going to handle the situation “with a smile.”
“It’s a great opportunity for some guys to get some big league experience,” he said after taking batting practice and shagging fly balls. “It’s good to see some guys get big league experience, get into some games, get into some action. I’ve shown what I can do, so it’s good to, if you’re going to move forward with the new future, so right now is no time like the present to get them some at-bats.”
Asked whether it’s difficult for him, Jones replied, “Of course, but at the same time I’m a pro about it and I want to see these guys succeed and I’m pushing for everybody when they get their chance. Right now is a great opportunity for three or four guys to get some at-bats going down the stretch.”
The Orioles are planning for a future that won’t include Jones, who can leave as a free agent after the season. Showalter has explained to reporters that he’s giving younger players a chance and keeping Jones off the artificial surface at Tropicana Field.
What’s said behind closed doors remains private.
“I don’t think anybody knows what that message is in terms of what direction it’s going,” Jones said. “All I know is that I’m here and I’m going to finish out the rest of the year. I can only control certain aspects of what I can control, but I’ll do it with a smile.”
Showalter can appreciate how it’s a delicate situation based on Jones’ popularity and his impact on the franchise and community.
“Just want to see some other guys play and keep him off the turf a little bit,” Showalter said. “He’s fine, he’s ready to play. I’m not going to make something up. I want to see some guys play.
“I talked to Adam, he knows what’s going on. It’s been a while since he’s missed some games being healthy, so it’s a little different territory for him, but I think he understands what’s going on.”
Jones gets antsy in the dugout as the designated hitter. He isn’t any more relaxed when out of the lineup.
“He doesn’t DH well,” Showalter said. “Adam’s a good teammate, a good pro and he’s really well respected. I want to treat him with the respect that he has due. This is a guy who’s going to be in the Oriole Hall of Fame one day, but I think he understands what we are trying to do as an organization, too. He’s a smart guy.
“He’s going to play again. It’s not like he’s not going to play the rest of the year, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Astroturf ... It’s really five days off, with the off-day before we got here and the off-day after we leave here.
“The turf’s not necessarily good on your body, but it’s not that bad. He feels as good physically as he has for in a long time. I think that bodes well for him. He and our training staff have done a good job of picking the days off for him. That doesn’t have anything to do with today’s subject matter.”
The reference to five days off in a row suggests that Jones won’t play Sunday.
“I didn’t say that,” Showalter said. “Never say never. We’ll see.”
What’s the perception of the young players when they check the lineup card and Jones is missing?
“Well, the perception better be that ‘I’m getting a heck of an opportunity here and I better take advantage of it,’” Showalter said. “They know that Adam plays for us almost every day. I hope that they’re perceptive to know that, ‘Hey, I’m getting a rare opportunity here. I better do what I can do.’ But it’s not always going to be that way necessarily.
“It’s important. There’s some certain things that we have to accomplish between now and the end of the year, and some of them will be with Adam in the lineup. That’s what I hope they perceive. ‘I better run with this.’”
Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo has started to throw on flat ground again in Sarasota. He could play winter ball to build up innings.
Update: The Rays scored four unearned runs off David Hess in the bottom of the first inning to lead 4-0. Renato Núñez had a throwing error. Hess threw a wild pitch. The fourth run scored on an attempted double steal, with Willy Adames crossing the plate before Jake Bauers was tagged out while retreating to first base.
Update II: The Rays lead 5-0 after Joey Wendle’s bunt single scored Brandon Lowe, who led off the second inning with a double. David Hess has thrown 51 pitches in two innings.
Update IV: Núñez hit a two-run homer in the fourth to reduce the lead to 5-3.
Update V: Tanner Scott let an inherited runner score in the sixth, and one of his own, as the Rays expanded their lead to 7-3.
Update VI: Villar’s two-run single off Chaz Roe in the seventh reduced the lead to 7-5.