Jahmai Jones injury ruins call-up rumors

Pat Valaika was on the field early yesterday for infield drills and later placed in the Orioles lineup for the series opener against the Yankees at Camden Yards.

Kill the rumors and speculation regarding Jahmai Jones.

Jones was scratched from Triple-A Norfolk’s lineup on Tuesday and replaced at second base by Mason McCoy. Stevie Wilkerson started at second the following night, Rylan Bannon Thursday and McCoy last night.

Were the Orioles preparing to recall Jones rather than keep rotating Valaika, Ramón Urías and Rio Ruiz at the position? They were off Thursday and could have withheld the announcement until yesterday.

Jones-Swings-White-ST-Sidebar.jpgNot so fast. Jones had a strained left oblique that forced him onto the seven-day injured list.

Obliques can linger, but the Orioles felt yesterday that it wasn’t too severe and he might be unavailable for days rather than weeks.

Jones, acquired from the Angels in the Alex Cobb trade, is 5-for-22 (.227) with a double, two triples, a home run, five RBIs and four walks. Both triples and the home run came on May 5 in Jacksonville.

He also has two errors in five games, and the Orioles want him to get more comfortable at the position after flip-flopping between the infield and center field.

I could be wrong, but the Orioles probably want Jones, 23, to play more than five games in Triple-A before promoting him - though he really impressed at the alternate training site.

In search of silver linings, it’s good to give Bannon some starts at second base. He’s mainly a third baseman, but needs the reps at second.

Wilkerson can play anywhere and he was tearing up Jacksonville and Charlotte pitching, going 12-for-31 (.387) with two doubles and a home run before last night. He isn’t on the 40-man roster, but the Orioles know how to make room.

Orioles second basemen were batting .210/.279/.363 last night, which is causing fans to want changes. Especially if it involves a prospect.

The average ranked as fifth-lowest in the majors - the Yankees were third at .194 - and the on-base percentage was third. The 26 hits were tied with the Yankees for second-fewest.

Valaika was 8-for-42 with a double, home run, two RBIs and 12 strikeouts. He struck out in the third inning last night, but gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead in the fifth with a run-scoring single. He also stole his first career base.

Meanwhile, Norfolk’s lineup included Ryan Ripken at first base.

Cal Ripken Jr.’s son, who turns 28 in July, had five hits in his first 27 at-bats. He was 2-for-3 Thursday night with a triple and RBI.

“I was fortunate enough to be around his father and his uncle (Bill) a little bit when I started with this organization in the ’90s, and his work ethic is the same as both of those guys,” Norfolk manager Gary Kendall said yesterday in a Zoom call. “He knows the game and he’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s a knowledgeable player and he’s really helped us so far.

“It’s nice. I knew his grandfather (Cal Sr.) and I met Ryan when he was about 3 or 4 years old when Aberdeen first opened up when I was a coach there. He’s a lot taller now than he was then when he was a 3-year-old.”

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