Even after he was forced from the Orioles' 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday because he crashed into an outfield wall, center fielder Adam Jones was hesitant to admit he was injured.
"Nothing is wrong with me," Jones said. "I'll probably play tomorrow."
When a postgame question was prefaced by the notion that Jones prides himself in being one of the toughest players in the Orioles clubhouse -- that it takes a lot for him to leave a game -- the All-Star center fielder interrupted the question.
"[I'm] probably the toughest [guy]," Jones quipped.
When another question asked how he was feeling at that moment after the game, Jones answered, "Great. How you feel?"
There's no doubt that Jones plays the game the right way. He goes hard, gives it his all and is in the lineup every day. That edge is partially what makes him one of the game's best players. But he has missed 11 games this season because of injury, the most he has missed since also sitting out 11 in 2011.
Having said that, the Orioles must be very careful about his injury. The wooziness he felt following the collision is nothing to scoff at. Credit manager Buck Showalter and the training staff for pulling Jones when they realized he wasn't right -- and for making Jones realize it wasn't in his best interests to keep playing. And you only need to look at former Oriole Brian Roberts' career to see the impact a concussion can make.
The Orioles need Jones in their starting lineup Friday when they open their three-game series in Texas. There's no doubt about that. Despite losing seven of their past eight games, the Orioles are still just 2½ games back of the Rangers for the second American League wild-card spot. This is a big series.
Jones will be examined by Rangers team doctor Dr. Keith Meister before Friday's game. We'll know more about the severity of Jones' injury then.
"He'll get looked at tomorrow and we'll see what tomorrow brings," Showalter said Thursday. "I'm not going to handicap. … I know what Adam is already telling me, and I know what Richie [Bancells] is saying, so somewhere in between, we'll figure it out."
Among the only bright spots that came out of Thursday's loss was seeing the way veteran Paul Janish can play shortstop.
Janish entered the game as a pinch hitter for Jones in the third. He ended up having the Orioles' only two hits against Royals starter Yordano Ventura. But his biggest impact was on defense. Janish made two tremendous defensive plays at short that saved at least two runs.
Kansas City was poised for a big rally in the fifth, already having scored one run in the inning to make it 3-0. The Royals had runners at first and third with one out when Salvador Perez hit a ball destined to skip up the middle into center field.
But Janish made a diving stop on Perez's grounder and followed with an underhand toss to second baseman Jonathan Schoop from his stomach, starting an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
In the eighth, the Royals had a man on third with one out when Omar Infante hit a broken-bat liner that Janish snagged deep in the hole to prevent a run from scoring.
Earlier this week, Showalter said Janish had some similarities to starting shortstop J.J. Hardy. After seeing him play, you can see that. Granted, Janish doesn't have any Gold Gloves like Hardy, but there is a calming presence in the infield when he's on the field. The players around him know he can handle himself defensively.
"I think more than anything, it's [as] advertised," Showalter said of Janish's defense. "It put him in a tough position there. He got our first hit and a couple of knocks. Paulie is a pro, and he's a very proactive defender. He can see the ball hit, and he's already moving and he can throw from a lot of different angles. He's as good of a shortstop as you'll want to see. He's a pro. We're lucky to have him."
After the game, Janish was asked about Showalter's comment of him being "as advertised."
"I guess it's how you're advertised, right?" Janish said. "It's good from my point of view because I take a lot of pride in that and over the course of my career, it's been a good feather in my cap. So I know that he's indicating to me that he has confidence in me, which for me is a good thing."