Adam Jones on new outfielders, chemistry and more (plus over-unders)

During my time in Sarasota, I asked Orioles center fielder Adam Jones what he would need to get done for this to be a successful spring training for him.

“Injury-free. It’s a successful spring training no matter who you are if you get through it without injuries,” he said.

Point made. While spring training results may be important for players fighting for roster spots or young players looking to leave the coaching staff with a good impression, the veterans just need to, as they say, “get their work in.”

As Jones surveyed the clubhouse early one morning, he said the Orioles’ excellent team chemistry remains despite a few roster changes from last year.

jones-gray-bubble-home-run-trot-sidebar.jpg“We still have it,” he said. “Nothing has changed. Couple of player changes, but the mentality and focus in this clubhouse has not changed.”

Is the club’s chemistry one of the strongest parts of the Orioles?

“Always has been,” Jones said.

I asked Jones how the new-look Orioles outfield was shaping up.

“They are understanding what we are trying to do and what we do as a defense,” he said. “They would not be in the big leagues if they were not talented. You have to make adjustments as a professional athlete and learn to how to play with everybody.”

Can the outfield this year be as good as the Orioles outfield last year?

“I think we will be just fine,” Jones said simply.

While Jones did not provide any specifics, he said he is always looking to tweak and improve his game.

“Want to be better than I was last year. There is always something to improve on in the game of baseball,” Jones said. “The overall game, there are a lot of aspects I need to get better at.”

As for predictions that the Orioles will finish in third or fourth place and not even win half their games, Jones said, “I shrug my shoulders to that. I don’t care. I just don’t care what people think. All I care about is the what the 25 men and the people wearing the Orioles uniform care about.”

So the team is driven to go one step further this year?

“Why are we here?” he said.

Over-unders: The online sportsbook Bovada lists the following over-under totals for some O’s players in terms of the homers they will hit in 2015.

* Adam Jones - 27.5
* Steve Pearce - 19.5
* Manny Machado - 17.5
* J.J. Hardy - 16

Bovada lists Jones’ RBI over-under total as 85.5 and Machado’s batting average at .279. It lists wins totals for Chris Tillman and Wei-Yin Chen at 11.5 and Bud Norris at 9.5.

In the former Orioles division, Nelson Cruz is at 27.5 for homers, Nick Markakis is at .275 for batting average and 75.5 for runs scored, Koji Uehara is at 28.5 for saves and Jake Arrieta at 11.5 for wins.

For starters: While manager Buck Showalter has not yet made it official, it seems very likely that Chris Tillman will be the Orioles’ opening day starter on April 6 at Tampa Bay.

As of yesterday, we do officially know that 26-year-old right-hander Chris Archer will start the season opener for the Rays. He went 10-9 with a 3.33 ERA in 32 starts and 194 2/3 innings last season.

But, to say the least, Archer does not have good numbers against the Orioles. He went 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts against Baltimore in 2014. He gave up 19 hits in 10 innings, allowing seven runs in five innings in one start and three runs over five in another.

In five career games (four starts) versus the Orioles, he is 1-2 with a 5.76 ERA over 25 innings. He has allowed a .287 average and .791 OPS to O’s hitters with a career 1.52 WHIP against the club.

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