Showalter: Orioles have 'always wanted to play Adam Jones' as veteran makes third straight start

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Orioles manager Buck Showalter had veteran outfielder Adam Jones in the lineup Sunday against the Chicago White Sox for the third straight game and fifth time in six since he sat for the entire series at Tampa Bay last weekend, and spoke as if that time on the bench never happened when explaining the plan with Jones going forward.

“Where Adam is concerned, I and the organization have always wanted to play him,” Showalter said ahead of Sunday’s game. “And not just out of respect for what he’s done here, but because of the presentation it makes. ...

“There’s a lot of things you’re trying to satisfy,” Showalter said. “First of all, we like playing Adam. I do. And we’re going to as much as we can, because he’s one of our best players. Believe me — every day, [bench coach] John [Russell] and whoever else might be there spend a lot of time trying to satisfy a lot of things with the lineups, but always with the idea of Adam playing. The respect that the organization has for him, and how much he’s been a part of this, and we’ll see what the future brings. But he’s playing today, and he played yesterday.”

Jones’ continued lineup presence while the Orioles are at home, especially for a Sunday afternoon game after a Saturday night game, the likes of which he’s typically been held out from, makes it seem like the game’s location is certainly a factor.

With the Rays not in a playoff race and the Orioles not playing before their home fans last weekend at Tropicana Field, it appears it was easier to leave Jones out of the lineup than it is at Camden Yards. Last week, Showalter simply said he has a lot to balance when it comes to Jones.

Even as the team brought up 2015 first-round pick DJ Stewart to join the cadre of alternatives to Jones, also including Joey Rickard and John Andreoli, Jones has started five of six games since the Orioles returned home.

While Saturday’s announced crowd of 23,266 was the biggest of the homestand, even the smaller crowds have found occasion to cheer Jones among all others as the pending free agent’s time in Baltimore possibly winds down.

“I look at the teams we’re playing a lot, about what it means to them and to the teams that are hoping that we beat them,” Showalter said. “I bring that into play. I bring into what’s best — I start out with what’s best for the Baltimore Orioles today, and there’s a lot of different factors in that. I even look sometimes, what’s our crowd like tomorrow?”

Jones went 2-for-4 Sunday with a home run, two runs, two RBIs and a walk.

Pitching still undecided

Showalter said before the game that Monday night’s starter against the Toronto Blue Jays wouldn’t likely be settled until the Orioles got through with Sunday’s game, but the game brought little clarity.

“We’ve already started looking at it,” Showalter said after Sunday’s 8-4 win. “We’re not going to announce anybody today. We’re gonna kind let the smoke clear a little bit. I know it’s one of three guys right now, none of which has started for us this year. I told them they would know by X time, and I don’t want to give them too much time to think about it. We have a pretty good idea of which way we’re going with it. We just want to make sure we’ve thought through everything, because I knew there were going to be some variables from today’s game that may make us look at it differently.”

Those candidates include relievers Sean Gilmartin, Evan Phillips and Donnie Hart. Some of the more stretched-out relievers the team has in its bullpen might still not be available after being used to cover a series of short starts and injuries.

Dylan Bundy is scheduled to start Tuesday night, and Wednesday night’s starter in the series finale is undecided.

During the last turn through the rotation, the team has dealt with short starts for Andrew Cashner, Alex Cobb, Luis Ortiz and Josh Rogers. Cashner had a cortisone injection to clear up a knee injury, Cobb is dealing with a blister problem, Ortiz suffered a hamstring strain, and Rogers is running up against his innings limit.

“I look at Rogers and Cashner and even Ortiz in the same light — we’ll see how Cobb’s blisters, how that all develops,” Showalter said before the game. “I hope it doesn’t develop. They were talking about potentially throwing some today, but I haven’t gotten the report back on that yet.”

Stewart still hitless

Stewart started as the designated hitter Sunday and went 0-for-4 with a run and an RBI. He’s 0-for-13 since making his major league debut Wednesday night.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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