The first fly ball hit to center fielder Adam Jones in the first intrasquad game turned him in the wrong direction and caused him to fall down without making the catch. Consider it his welcome-to-the-Orioles moment. It also figures to be a rare occurrence, judging by how much he has improved since that embarrassing day.
Jones has made tremendous strides in the field, and not just when he is on the run. The extra time he spent with first base coach John Shelby, who works with the outfielders, definitely has appeared to pay off.
"I had never seen him play before, so there wasn't really one specific thing that I was looking at. I was just watching him overall, seeing what he did well, what he didn't do well," Shelby said. "Like I told all those guys, I would be observing them, and if I didn't think there was anything to give any input on, I wouldn't. I would tell them to keep doing what they were doing."
That wasn't the case with Jones, who told Shelby he had difficulty reading line drives.
"I had a chance to watch him and he turned the wrong way a couple times, and we talked about it," Shelby said. "The best thing about Adam Jones is he listens. It's not in one ear and out the other. He listens and he thinks about it. We'd go out in the outfield and talk all the time, and he put it into use.
"The things he doesn't do well, we work on those things. The other things, I leave him alone. I told him he's going to be running balls down. The outfield is his. Just go do it."
Shelby, who played center field for the Orioles for parts of seven seasons, wants to make sure Jones doesn't fall into the trap of taking a bad at-bat into the field.
"He's also a hitter," Shelby said, "and I let him know that when you're in the dugout, you worry about hitting. When you're in the outfield, you worry about defense. It's just getting him to learn how to separate the two. The other day, he was worried about a bunt, he popped it up, and then he had a line drive hit to him and it kind of got in between, and the ball skipped past him. That's just part of it."
The Orioles play seven games on this homestand, and that figures to be enough for manager Dave Trembley to start everyone.
He went with the same lineup last night as the one he posted on Opening Day, except he flip-flopped Ramon Hernandez and Luke Scott in the order, but he'll likely bring Brandon Fahey, Jay Payton, Scott Moore and backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz off the bench before the club embarks on its first road trip.
"I'd like to do that, but I haven't written the lineups out through the end of the homestand," he said.
"It's easier said than done, especially with the bullpen, but you'd certainly like to give everybody an opportunity to get in there. You've got a couple left-handed pitchers throwing against us in the series against Seattle, and you've got a day game after a night game, so you'd hope to get all the positions players in."
Fahey will start at shortstop at least once during the homestand.
Three of the Orioles' full-season affiliates begin their seasons today, with Single-A Frederick, the defending Carolina League champion, opening at home tomorrow.
Outfield prospect Nolan Reimold returns to Double-A Bowie, where he was limited to 50 games last year and made two trips to the disabled list with an oblique injury.
Reimold batted .306 in the Eastern League and led the Arizona Fall League with six homers and 23 RBIs.
"He's had no problems whatsoever in spring training. He did everything full speed," said Dave Stockstill, director of minor league operations.
"We want him to get his feet on the ground, and we felt Bowie was the best place for him to start out. Fifty games at Bowie didn't really give him enough experience at that level. And it's not so much where someone is today, it's where they are in the future, and we've got to do what's best for Nolan Reimold."
Around the horn
Though he logged 2 2/3 innings on Opening Day, reliever Matt Albers was available last night because he threw only 26 pitches. ... Former Oriole Erik Bedard makes his next start Sunday at Camden Yards.