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Orioles notes: Jones gets rest before stretch on turf; Gentry's return 'outstanding' for depth

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones got a maintenance day Thursday in anticipation of the upcoming week of games on artificial turf, bench coach John Russell said.

"You guys know how hard he plays, and we're going into six games on turf," said Russell, who filled in for manager Buck Showalter on Thursday. "That turf can really beat up a guy that runs around a lot. Past times, when [shortstop J.J.] Hardy was still active, he'd get on the turf a few days and need a day off because it's a grind on you. We felt like today was a good day. He's been playing hard."

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Jones has been rested like this a bit more frequently this year in an effort to keep him healthy and avoid longer stretches on the bench. He missed a four-game stretch with lingering hip and ankle problems in late May, and has otherwise gotten three rest days, including Thursday, to keep him fresh.

Through 65 games this year, Jones is batting .269/.307/.437 with 12 home runs and 32 RBIs. Showalter recently moved him into the third spot in the batting order, swapping him with third baseman Manny Machado.

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But the lineup Thursday didn't include him in hopes of that offensive and defensive production continuing.

"Keep him fresh," Russell said. "If you keep pushing it, you don't want to turn it into a two- or three-day thing to get him back on track. Giving him that spell every once in a while can keep it going for him."

Gentry already a factor: Showalter had used reserve outfielder Craig Gentry twice since adding him back to the roster Tuesday, and Russell said his ability to play center field is good not only for versatility off the bench but for resting someone like Jones.

"It's outstanding," Russell said of Gentry, who started in center field Thursday. "To have some guys that have some flexibility on the bench with him and Joey [Rickard], it gives you flexibility for defense, it gives you flexibility to pinch hit off a left-hander, gives you flexibility to pinch run. You can pick your spots. It just gives you options, and to be able to give Adam a day — not that Joey can't do it, but Craig playing center field, we feel like he might have a tick more range. It still lets you keep somebody like Joey, if he's not playing, you've still got a good piece on the bench."

Gentry had played in 33 of the Orioles' first 36 games before he was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk, which he said allowed him to get the everyday at-bats that were missing in his bench role.

"It's tough anywhere when you're not seeing pitching every day, much less at the big league level," Gentry said. "It's definitely not an ideal situation to be in, but a positive thing coming out of it was getting to see pitching every day and getting to play and get back into a rhythm again and get some confidence back. That's some positives I took away from it."

Showalter a grandfather: Russell said Showalter's daughter, Allie, had a 9-pound, 1-ounce baby boy in Dallas early Thursday morning, and Showalter had checked in from the hospital.

"I think he got there about 45 minutes to an hour later. He sent me a picture. The first picture, Allie was holding the baby. Then the next one, Buck was sitting right next to her. A pretty happy grandfather," Russell said. "Really, really, really happy for him that he got to go and spend that time with them."

Around the horn: Closer Zach Britton (left forearm strain) made his second rehabilitation appearance Thursday at Low-Delmarva. Britton pitched another scoreless inning, allowing one hit while striking out two and walking none. He threw 16 pitches, 11 for strikes. ... Russell said the challenge of standing in for a day is to make sure the bullpen remains in order for the following day, which is a continuing challenge for the Orioles. … Reliever Darren O’Day (shoulder) is on track to be activated from the disabled list Friday, before the series opener at the Tampa Bay Rays, Russell said. … The Orioles announced Thursday that they signed second-round draft pick Adam Hall, a shortstop, and fifth-round pick Lamar Sparks, a center fielder. ... Outfielder Austin Hays, the Orioles' 2016 third-round pick, was promoted from High-A Frederick to Double-A Bowie on Thursday. Hays, 21, batted .328/.364/.592 with 15 doubles, 16 homers and 41 RBIs in 64 games with the Keys.

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