Orioles center fielder Adam Jones described himself as “marvelous” this morning, his first day back with his teammates since leaving for the World Baseball Classic on March 3.
He’ll be taking today and tomorrow off, and will play for the Orioles either Tuesday or Wednesday. Since Tuesday is a road game in Fort Myers, Fla., the best guess is that he’ll be in the starting lineup Wednesday in Sarasota versus the Toronto Blue Jays.
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“I’ve played six straight nine-inning games, so my body feels good,” Jones said. “We’ve got two-plus weeks? I’ve got a little over two weeks. Opening Day, I’ll be ready for that for sure.”
Jones batted .182 (4-for-22) with four RBIs in the tournament, which ended prematurely for the United States as the squad failed to reach the semifinals.
“We didn’t win, so it was disappointing,” Jones said. “But it is actually a legit tournament. You see how good baseball is around this world. People really want to beat the U.S. They beat the U.S. that is what their goal is. This tournament proves there’s great baseball around the world.”
When Jones got to his locker at Ed Smith Stadium today there was a sombrero sitting there, courtesy of Orioles pitchers Luis Ayala and Miguel Gonzalez – a friendly reminder that the U.S. lost to their native Mexico.
“Ayala put a big sombrero atop my locker today. That is pretty cool. He represents his country even though he is playing in the United States,” Jones said. “It is nice to see how prideful players are about their countries.”
Although all of the games Jones participated in were played in Arizona and Florida, he said the crowds were always for the opposition.
“We had no home games, which is pretty remarkable,” Jones said. “Every game was a road game for us.”
The atmosphere he said was reminiscent of last season’s American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards, games in which the fans’ attention was on every pitch.
“Just like it. Every game in Phoenix and in Miami, all six games felt like Games 1 through 5 last year in the playoffs for us,” he said. “Every game was unbelievable.”
Jones said he absolutely would sign up again if he is asked to play for Team USA at the next World Baseball Classic. He understands that some people don’t want to play in it for personal or professional reasons, but said it’s an experience he won’t forget.
“Everybody that said yes, took it very, very seriously,” he said.
When asked if there was one thing that stood out, he said, “Really, it was just the pride of playing for your country.”