Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game with a rib cage strain Monday afternoon as the club opens a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Jones is still considered day-to-day, but all parties involved are determined to make sure Jones is completely pain-free before he gets back on the field.
“I think it’s smart to not try to aggravate it,” said Jones, who said he believes he could have played Monday. “I’m getting a lot better day by day, which is a positive thing. It’s just frustration because I want to be out there playing, but I’ll be a cheerleader again today and hopefully I can get out there tomorrow, and if not, we just keep progressing and continue to try to get better, because as you know, I want to be out on the field. If missing a couple more days helps me not miss a month or two months or something like that, then that’s just what we’re going to have to do.”
The Orioles insist Jones’ injury does not involve an oblique, which could take several weeks to recover from. Manager Buck Showalter said that Jones – who hasn’t played since Wednesday -- continues to get better every day, but he didn’t expect marked recovery on Monday, with a quick turnaround.
He admitted the cold weather has played a part in sitting Jones. The 25-mile-per-hour winds before Monday’s first pitch had the temperature in Boston feeling like the mid 40’s.
“It’s such a quick turnaround to expect a lot different than yesterday,” Showalter said. “I talk to him every day about it and everything. Like I said, there’s such a fine line. You go out there and test it and you don’t let it heal. But he’s very close. You know, the intercostal, the oblique, all the things, they’re all kind of related in some fashion, but weather has something to do about it, too. But hopefully we’ll get him back in there shortly.”
Jones tested the injury before Monday’s game by running, throwing and hitting. He didn't have any setbacks. He said swinging had been the only time he’d felt discomfort in his core.
“I feel pretty good,” Jones said. “I’m getting better and it’s a lot better than the first day, and Showalter is being patient because, his patience is kind of thin these days, so it’s good that he’s being patient with me.”
Jones said he would like to get to the point where he can swing close to full power in the batting cage. The slugger has an aggressive swing, so he knows the true test will be once he gets into a game.
“That’s going to be the ultimate test because you can’t simulate the game in BP,” Jones said. “The biggest thing is testing it during a game. And obviously the game swings, the game adrenaline’s a lot different than BP. In BP, I can easily coast through it, but in the game, you just can’t coast through it because the adrenaline is running. So the first thing is I really just want to get it so I don’t feel anything no matter what even though I can swing harder and harder in BP and get closer and closer to game speed as a possibly can.”
Showalter said he wouldn’t consider a DL stint for Jones until he doesn’t play for 10 straight days, which would be Saturday. Jones hasn’t been on the disabled list since 2009.
The Orioles arrive in Boston 5-0 and have won all three games Jones has missed.
“It’s great to win,” Jones said. “The depth of this team is tremendous. I step out, I’m not saying I’m the most important person here, but Nolan [Reimold] is fielding great. Rickard is fielding great in centerfield, [Hyun Soo] Kim yesterday with a couple knocks and some solid defense. Our lineup is deep. It’s good that I don't feel like I have to rush myself back here to prove anything. The guys understand that I’m going through something and they are all supportive and say, ‘Take your time’. Me missing five or six games is better than me missing a month of two.”
Gausman 'will be fine': Right-hander Kevin Gausman took a line drive to the inside of his left knee early in Saturday’s rehab start at Double-A Bowie and had a large bruise to show for it, but it won’t hinder his projected return from the DL.
“I’ll be fine,” said Gausman, who allowed one run on four hits over two innings (47 pitches) on Sunday. “This happened the second batter of the game and it didn’t bother me at all. It should be fine.”
Gausman, who opened the season on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, was scheduled to return on April 20 following a second rehab stint – a five-inning outing Friday a high Class-A Frederick – but he could get a third rehab start before returning. Gausman said he thinks he could benefit from getting two five-inning outings in the minors.
“I’m going to talk about them about doing that, doing a five-inning thing twice or going 90 pitches one time before coming up here -- I think would be good,” Gausman said. “But that’s really not up to me. That’s something I might talk to them about, maybe bring up in conversation, but ultimately it’s up to them.”
Aligning the outfield: Fenway Park offers its challenges defensively, from the green monster in left field, to the tricky right-field corner, so Showalter adjusted his outfield for Monday’s game. After making his first five starts this season in right field, Mark Trumbo will start in left field this afternoon, playing in front of Fenway Park’s high left-field fence. Nolan Reimold, who has seen all of his previous action in left field this season, will start in right field
“We’ve got a versatile group that’s played in other places,” Showalter said. “I think it’s been a strength of ours and we’ll continue to try to match up with the things that could give us the most advantage. Everything’s different. You go to Yankee Stadium and it’s the other way around. You go to Tampa, it’s different. You go to our park and it’s different. It’s very important. That’s why we tried to create as much versatility as we could during the spring."