An increase in regular games and mental reactions that he says are great for this time of spring have led to a surge in power for Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, who in the last week is 7-for-14 with three home runs in five games.
His home run on Thursday against the Minnesota Twins, which came off reliever Ryan Pressly in the fourth inning of the Orioles’ 4-1 win, was an example of the kind of reactionary thinking players spend all spring trying to hone in advance of the season.
After a steady diet of breaking pitches away, Jones got a high fastball and got all of it for another long home run at Ed Smith Stadium.
“It just comes with repetition,” Jones said. “I’ve faced him before. I remember the at-bat like it was last night — it was last night, and he made some good pitches.
“Even that ball I hit was a ball, neck-high. I don't know how you get to that ball. It’s not something that you want to go out and try to teach your kid to do. It’s just reactions. It’s good that my reaction was like that. It’s not like I tried to do it the way it happened, I just reacted to the situation, and the ball was able to get out.”
Manager Buck Showalter said pitching to players the way Jones was approached is a common mistake, one that his All Star center fielder made Pressly pay for.
“I tell our pitchers all the time,” Showalter said. “Do you want to get somebody out or embarrass them? If you try to embarrass them, sometimes you’re going to fall right into a trap. He went breaking ball soft, breaking ball soft, and now he’s going to go up and in. They can’t help themselves.”
The home run came in Jones’ second at-bat, and was part of a 3-for-3 day that boosted his spring line to .346/.370/.731. He also singled in the first inning and hit an RBI double in the Orioles’ two-run sixth inning.
Jones takes some positives from his recent output, but like so many others in the clubhouse, isn’t getting carried away with it.
“Spring doesn’t matter, man,” Jones said. “The most important thing about spring is getting through healthy and being ready to start the season. It’s always good to yield positive results at the plate, but they don’t count here in spring training. I think the biggest thing is just feeling good, making sure your body feels good, getting yourself in shape for this long haul. Because once it starts April 4, it doesn’t end until [the end of] September.”