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Former Orioles OF Adam Jones happy to be contributing to winner in Arizona: 'I still can play'

The uniforms awaiting Adam Jones in his corner locker at Coors Field on Monday weren't tinged with orange the way they had been for so long, but the occupant is still the same.

He still keeps the nicest collection of cleats in the room. He still has glazed donuts waiting for him when he arrives.

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And he still doesn't regard the success he's found in his post-Baltimore baseball home with the Arizona Diamondbacks as anything worth celebrating, as he believes it’s the same as what he showed for over 1,600 games with the Orioles before they let him walk this offseason.

Part of the reason Brandon Hyde's Orioles have rallied from a rough day as often as they seemingly have is the number of chances they have had to do so.

"The thing is, I still can ball," Jones said. "I still could play, so at the end of the day, I'm going to get mine. That's just how the game goes. If you can play, you can play. And I still can play. I'm just going out there every day and doing it. That's what I've done for 12 years now."

Most of those 12 years came with the Orioles, who acquired Jones in a transformational trade with the Seattle Mariners for Erik Bedard ahead of the 2008 season and was their franchise-cornerstone center fielder for over a decade.

Jones made the first of his five All-Star Game appearances and won the first of his four Gold Glove awards in 2009, and received votes for Most Valuable Player each year from 2012 to 2014 — which coincided with the Orioles' rise from decades of losing to a team with legitimate World Series aspirations.

Through his prime with the Orioles, Jones was a picture of consistency. He hit at least 25 home runs from 2010 to 2017. His average was never below .269 for a season in that span, and never above .285. He led on and off the field.

But as Jones' contract came up in 2018, the winning he was such a part of for the previous five years simply stopped. A team that was primed for one last run at the playoffs instead traded the expiring contacts of Manny Machado, Zack Britton and Brad Brach while shedding future salary commitments by dealing Kevin Gausman, Darren O'Day and Jonathan Schoop.

A sprawling 24-acre Baltimore County estate owned by Orioles alumnus Adam Jones, and previously by Cal Ripken Jr., has sold for $3.55 million.

Jones, however, used his vested 10-and-5 rights, which allow a player with 10 years of major league service time and five with the same team to veto a trade. He remained with the Orioles down the stretch, though he ceded center field to rookie Cedric Mullins, and was feted with multiple ovations on the final day of the season at Camden Yards.

Though Jones didn't sign with Arizona until February, and even then for only $3 million, there was no interest in bringing him back to Baltimore to be part of the complete organizational overhaul and player development-driven rebuild initiated by former executive Dan Duquette and continued by current executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias.

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"The game is a business, my man," Jones said. "Some days you're there, some days you're not. The game is a business, and both sides treated it as a business. What am I supposed to do? I think everybody, through my career, was very, very appreciative of the way I grinded."

Jones has found that plays in the desert, too. He described the transition to Arizona a smooth one, with the same processes of learning the names and faces that he dealt with in Baltimore, albeit with a little more clout than he had back then.

"It's been amazing here," Jones said. "Everything, top-to-bottom, everyone's been really professional. I can't say enough about [manager Torey Lovullo] and the staff and all the coaches — amazing. Especially since I signed, my teammates, everybody has been very, very awesome."

Adam Jones said last year at FanFest that he was excited about the prospect of free agency, but it obviously didn't live up to his expectations.

He also said the transition for his family wasn't very difficult, with them spending most of their time in San Diego as it is, and the National League West slate of games against the Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants allowing him to see his mom, his friends, and family more often.

That success seems about as unsurprising as how quickly he's taken to a new club. Jones entered Monday's game, which he wasn't in the lineup for, batting a quintessentially-Jones .281/.332/.500 with 10 home runs and 13 doubles in 50 games. The power means his OPS of .832 is as high as it's been this late in a season since 2015, his last as an All-Star.

Even with the suppressed free-agent market that veteran players have met the past few offseasons, that's already worth the $3 million Jones is earning, and perhaps an advisory to teams in the market for a veteran outfielder next offseason that one of the game's most durable and popular players can also still hit a little.

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Arizona's success has something to do with that, too, Jones said. They entered their Memorial Day matinee with the Rockies at 28-25, and are in the mix with several other playoff hopefuls in the National League.

Jones is much more content to be a part of that than just posting numbers.

"I'm happy when I'm playing," Jones said. "I'm always happy. I'm doing the same thing I've done my whole career — just come out and play the game hard. That box-score stuff is cool, but I always said, if the team is having some success, I'm probably going to be right in the middle of it in some capacity. We're having some good success."

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