Writing another piece about Orioles center fielder Adam Jones as he prepares to play in tonight’s All-Star Game could have been a real challenge.
After all, we have written about the man hundreds of times in his career with the Orioles.
But I must admit, I find him pretty fascinating. When Jones wants to be, he is one of the more thoughtful and introspective players I have covered. (When he doesn’t want to be, it’s best to leave him alone and catch him on another day).
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Jones also gets the importance of connecting with fans. After he lost to eventual Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes while hitting three home runs in the second round last night, Jones tweeted fairly immediately.
“The HR Derby is legit. Great experience and had a blast. All in the fun of the game.”
OK, nothing groundbreaking there, but just a quick note to fans on what he thought about his first Home Run Derby.
That’s sort of why I wrote the article about Jones and the strange relationship he has with Orioles fans. I think it’s fair to say he is the club’s most popular player -- certainly one of them -- and arguably the best. And he reaches out to his fan base and community more than most professional athletes.
But he’s also the established, everyday player who probably gets criticized the most for things like his lack of plate discipline. I wanted to hear his thoughts about that dichotomy.
And here are a few other quotes I couldn’t get into that piece.
Manager Buck Showalter on Jones: “He’s sincere. If you don’t want to know exactly what he’s thinking, don’t ask. I think he realized the weight his words carry now. Because now not only does he say the right things, but he plays the way he talks. It’s not like he is talking a lot of crap or whatever. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.”
Showalter on managing Jones: “He is extremely entertaining to manage, and I love looking at things through his eyes sometimes. I wouldn’t say he has taught me, but some times I’ll kind of go, ‘What’s your thinking here?’ And he’ll tell me, and I’ll go ‘Hmm, interesting perspective.’”
Showalter on what Jones has meant to the Orioles and Baltimore: “He’s a guy that has committed to Baltimore, if you think about it. He bought a home here. He is raising a family here. We are paying him very handsomely, but I hear him talk. And there are some guys [in baseball] that are waiting around for the last penny, and God bless all of them, but Jonesy didn’t. He goes, ‘I found a place that I get that gets me,’ and I think he understands roots, I really do. I think he understands putting down roots. And he wants to finish his career here. But the only way he is going to finish it here is if it looks like we are going to be able to compete year in and year out. Because for him that’s what it is all about. He wants to win. Every inning, every game, every at-bat.”
Chris Davis on whether Jones may end up as the best player he’s ever had as a teammate: “I think time will tell. He’s obviously making a case for it early. But it’s going to be a fun next few years to watch. If he continues at this pace, I won’t have to give that opinion because the numbers will say that for themselves. But as far as an everyday player coming in and giving everything he’s got, he’s one of the best I’ve been around.”
Adam Jones on Baltimore and its fans: “It’s got some passion, some passionate fans. Obviously, the last couple years, they have been back here in the Yard and you can tell by the attendance rising. And it is fun to see. With the fans [interested], comes the good and the bad. Because it comes with expectations. They expect us to be good. Hopefully, they don’t expect us to win 162, but I think they want us to give them all we got, and I think that’s what we do. I don’t think we have much of a problem of giving the fans all we have. I’ll just play the game and worry about all that other stuff later. I’m playing the game, smiling, and anything else that comes with it, cool.”
Jones on being happy with where the team is this season: “We are playing good baseball right now, but we have tons of games to go to complete our mission. But we are on the right track. We are playing good baseball. We got the right guys here.”