Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was back in the starting lineup Thursday night, Thursday, batting third and playing center field after being out of the mix for a week with a rib injury.
“He’s ready,” manager Buck Showalter said before the game. “We’re ready to get him out of the clubhouse and out of the dugout. [Clubhouse attendants] ask me all the time, ‘When’s Adam going to play again?’ He’s like a caged lion. We’ve gone over and beyond trying to make sure, but there’s still some unknown. I don’t care. You could play five rehab games, but until you play at the intensity level that it takes to compete with a major league team and Cole Hamels, [Texas Rangers starter] Cole Hamels, you never know. There’s no other steps to take now except play.”
He may have been ready, but he had a rough return, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and leaving three men on base as the Orioles lost, 6-3, to the Rangers.
Jones and the Orioles have been extra cautious with the injury, which first flared up in his final at-bat April 6 last Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins. He appeared twice as a defensive replacement since, but did not have an at-bat.
Showalter said the caution displayed the latter is a sign of maturity for Jones, a player who might have tried to play through such an ailment earlier in his career instead of letting it heal.
On Wednesday, Jones took batting practice on the field at Fenway Park, but was held out of the lineup as a precaution due to the cold weather in Boston. The weather and the abundance of caution kept him out of the starting lineup for nearly a week.
Showalter said the latter is a sign of maturity for Jones, a player who might have tried to play through such an ailment earlier in his career instead of letting it heal.
“I think there’s a lot of trust involved with he and us,” Showalter said. “He would have tried to push it. We still wouldn’t have let him do it. I think the maturity comes from knowing how long the season is and how challenging it is and how he’s not doing us any good if he’s not there.”
Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard manned center field in his absence, proving what the Orioles hoped would be true about him when they selected him in December.
“When we were talking about him in the Rule 5 draft we felt like at the very worst he would be able to be that guy who could play all three and be a guy who can play defense for you late in the game if that’s what you want him to do,” Rickard said. “But so far so good with that.”