Orioles center fielder Adam Jones’ decision to participate in Monday’s Home Run Derby at Target Field in Minneapolis came down to one simple criterion.
“I wanted to do it,” Jones said Wednesday.
Jones will join captain Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays, Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics and Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins in representing the American League. One other AL competitor will be added Thursday.
Under this year’s new bracket format, the AL winner will face the best National League performer in a final, head-to-head round to determine a champion.
Jones said he plans to bring his WWE title belt, which he took as a spectator to last year’s Home Run Derby, on Monday. And if all goes as planned, he’ll be crowning himself with it after his first appearance in the event.
“I’m just going to have some fun,” he said. “I’m 28. Let me have some fun.”
First baseman Chris Davis, who participated in the Home Run Derby last year, said he offered some words of advice to Jones.
“If you have an opportunity to do something you want to do for a long time, and you can enjoy it, then go do it,” Davis said. “I think the whole slump thing, and people being afraid of that, it gets to be old after a while.”
Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz declined an invitation to this year’s Home Run Derby in fear that it might affect his swing, but he said he didn’t try to sway Jones from participating.
Cruz and Jones will start for the AL in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Rotation for remainder of first half
If Thursday’s game necessitates it, the Orioles are prepared to call up a reliever before the All-Star break, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Wednesday.
Showalter plans for Chen to pitch the series finale against the Nationals on Thursday. Then, right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will take the mound Friday, followed by Jimenez on Saturday, both against the New York Yankees.
Because Gonzalez has minor league options, the club then could send him down to the minor leagues and call up an extra reliever. The 10-day window before he could return would be mitigated somewhat by the All-Star break.
“Right now, we’re on that curve,” Showalter said. “We’re trying to make sure we get through the All-Star break with our bullpen physically in good shape.”
Tillman likely will start Sunday, though Showalter expressed his desire to have right-hander Bud Norris pitch again before the All-Star break, even if it’s on three days’ rest.
Around the horn
Manny Machado's second-inning single was the 300th hit of his career. He also has hits in 22 of 31 games since June 1. … Wednesday marked the 1,300th game of Markakis’ and the 1,200th of J.J. Hardy’s major league careers. … Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Suk-min Yoon is scheduled to come off the minor league disabled list July 19. He's recovering from shoulder impingement. … New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation Wednesday afternoon and will miss Sunday's scheduled start against the Orioles. … Wednesday marked Nationals first base and outfield coach Tony Tarasco’s first time in Camden Yards since playing for the Orioles from 1996-1997.