Though Adam Jones was out of the starting lineup for a second consecutive game for the first time since 2011, manager Buck Showalter said Jones' tender left ankle felt better Sunday morning and would not likely require a trip to the disabled list.

Still, the club is being cautious with its star center fielder, which means the decision on when to return might not be in Jones' hands.


"It's the right thing," Showalter said of the decision to keep Jones out against Tampa Bay Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, against whom Jones has hit a team-leading .471 (8-for-17).

"I don't put Adam in that position because I know what he's going to say," Showalter said. "It's not fair to him. We know what he means to our club, and there's some caution we have to take right now. I'm not saying he's going to play tomorrow."

Showalter said that at a different time of the year, Jones might be available. But for the durable outfielder, who played all 162 games in 2012 and sat out a combined five games in 2013 and 2014, any time out of the starting lineup is a rarity.

In September 2011, Jones spent a week out of the lineup while dealing with a thumb injury.

Jones played the first 47 games of the season this year, and even played Friday, a day after he turned his ankle sliding into home against the Chicago White Sox. An x-ray and MRI Saturday revealed a mild ankle sprain, Showalter said, and Jones is considered day-to-day.

David Lough made his second start in center Sunday and his fourth in the outfield this week since Alejandro De Aza was designated for assignment.

"It's unfortunate Jonesy is hurt right now, but I feel that I can hold down the fort for him while he's gone for a few days," Lough said. "And once he comes back hopefully I can build some trust in Buck in getting more at-bats and consistent playing time."

Lough has been a fourth outfielder pretty much since he joined the Orioles in a trade with the Kansas City Royals for Danny Valencia before the 2014 season. Playing defense and pinch-running with the occasional start is something he's become accustomed to.

"I've been in this role for a while now and I've embraced it with all I can," he said. "So when I do get my chance to play I just try to go out and do things that will help our team win.

Still, he's welcomed getting to see his name in the lineup — before last week he hadn't started consecutive games since last June.

"It's nice, it is really nice," he said. "You don't want to come to the clubhouse not expecting to play. I come to the clubhouse expecting to play every day because you don't know when you are going to be plugged in, you don't know what the lineup's gonna look like. You have to prepare yourself every day you are going to play a game of baseball."

In two games in center field in place of Jones this weekend, Lough was 0-for-7, lowering his batting average to .239.

Showalter said before the game that Lough's value in this situation was his ability to play center field.

"He ran a ball down yesterday not many guys get to," Showalter said. "That's one of the reasons he's valuable on our club, because he can do that."