PHOENIX - The television cameras and assorted media were stationed in front of Adam Jones’ locker this afternoon in the home clubhouse at Chase Field. Barely room for the former Orioles outfielder to squeeze past and conduct his interview.
“Adam, why does everyone want to talk to you today?” a teammate deadpanned.
Jones pretended that he had no idea.
“Some unfortunate reason, I guess,” he said.
Local and out-of-town reporters learned in unison that Jones isn’t making a big deal out of the series beyond its importance to a team trying to stay in playoff contention. There’s no special meaning outside of the standings and a chance to visit with a few friends.
“We need Ws, man,” Jones said. “The most important thing is business. You’ve got to handle business first, especially a week before the trade deadline. We’re right in the thick of it, so reality and what’s really at stake and what’s most important for us is to come out and get some wins.
“We had a tough series the last series with Milwaukee, lost three out of four, and I think those three games we could have won. So we’re in a precarious situation where I want to try to give all my energy to my teammates because it’s an important time for us. So that’s really what’s most important.”
Coming off a 115-loss season with the Orioles, Jones is able to talk playoffs again without feeling like an outsider.
“I have five, six years of that over there,” he said. “It’s good to be fighting for something. I’m in a great place right now, got a great group of guys with some attainable goals, so we’ve got to go out there and get it.”
There aren’t many players left with the Orioles who have a real attachment to Jones, veterans peeling away through trades and free agency.
Out with the familiar, in with the new.
“It’s not weird at all,” Jones said. “It’s awesome for them that those guys are getting an opportunity. It’s the major leagues. Their dreams are coming true with getting an opportunity to play, so best of luck to them. Take advantage of the opportunity to play in the major leagues. It’s not an easy thing to come by.
“It’s just how teams work. Sometimes there’s turnover.”
Jones keeps tabs on the Orioles, but also the rest of the teams in the majors. He isn’t playing favorites.
“I keep track with what’s going on in baseball,” he said. “Obviously deep down I’ve always been a Padres fan, which kind of defeats the purpose of playing for the Diamondbacks a little bit, but I keep track of what’s going on. Especially my friends. Always have.
“I definitely keep track of what’s going on with (Jonathan) Schoop, (Zack) Britton, (Manny) Machado. Obviously I get to see him a lot more often. But guys, my good friends, I keep track of them. I pay attention to what’s going on in the game in general.
“I reached out to Trey (Mancini), I’ve kept in contact with (Mychal) Givens. Reach out to (Richard) Bleier here and there. I think bigger than the game is friendships, so I still reach out to my friends in the game no matter what uniform they’re in.”
There’s a large contingent of Orioles fans in orange and black apparel who made the trip to cheer Jones, including a group making arrangements through BMORE Around Town.
“I think my boy Brian (Snyder) had a pretty good plan with BMORE Around Town to have a good West Coast Trip, so I don’t think people are entirely coming out there to see me, but it’s much appreciated,” Jones said. “Obviously they’re spending their hard-earned dollars to fly across country. It’s hot out there, it’s hot here. I know a lot of them are going to go to California for the next leg of the trip, so they get some beach, some cooler weather. But it’s appreciated.
“I was there for a while, so a lot of people got to grow up on me playing there. It’s greatly appreciated that they’re coming out and watching.”
Jones took his last question and was done in 3 1/2 minutes. Just another day at the ballpark except for the crowd at his locker.
“It’s the first time I’ve had this many cameras in my face since I’ve been here besides opening day,” he said. “No, it’s the same game. Still 60 feet six inches from home plate to the mound, so play the game. Don’t try to do anything else. Just play the game.”