PHOENIX — The same singular focus on winning the ballgame in front of him that former Orioles outfielder Adam Jones brought to Baltimore for over 11 years prevented him from making too much of his old club’s visit to face him and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night at Chase Field.
Jones, who has started in right field in all but seven games this season with Arizona after signing a one-year, $3 million contract this offseason, downplayed the arrival of his former team by focusing instead on the fact that it’s a pivotal time in the clubhouse for a Diamondbacks team at 50-50 and in a messy National League wild-card picture.
“I had five, six years of that over there,” Jones said of his time with the Orioles. "It’s good to be fighting for something. I’m in a great place right now. I’ve got a great group of guys with attainable goals. We’ve got to go after and get it.
"We need Ws, man. We've got to handle business first, especially a week before the trade deadline. We're right in the thick of it, so reality and what's really at stake, and what's really most important for us, is to come out and get some wins. We had a tough series last series with Milwaukee, lost three out of four. ... We're in a precarious situation where I want to try and give all my energy to my teammates, because it's an important time for us. That's really what's most important."
Such an emphasis on simply showing up and being ready to play every day was one of Jones' most endearing qualities to Orioles fans, with several making the trip west wearing Jones' gear to see one of the most recognizable faces of this decade's Orioles success play again.
When the Orioles changed management this offseason with Jones as a free agent, the team didn’t reach out to offer him a way back to Baltimore. While that caused some frustration from Orioles fans, Jones said “it’s appreciated” that they’d come all this way to see him play again.
"I was there for a while," Jones said. "A lot of people got to grow up on me playing there. It's greatly appreciated that they're coming out and watching."
In reality, Jones is facing his old club in colors only. He played with first baseman Chris Davis for a majority of his time in Baltimore, but otherwise, the only players he shared more than one season with at Camden Yards are Trey Mancini, Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier.
The rest of the Orioles he's facing are products of either the farm system or the team's on-the-fly roster retooling.
"It's awesome for them that those guys are getting opportunity," Jones said. "This is the major leagues, their dreams are coming true getting the opportunity to play. Best of luck to them, take advantage of the opportunity to play in the major leagues. It's not an easy thing to come by."
As for those Orioles he did know — including the crop of players dealt last summer such as Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado and Zack Britton — Jones said he keeps in touch with them as much as possible.
“The guys who are my good friends, I keep track of them,” Jones said. “I pay attention to what’s going on in the game in general. I reached out to Trey, kept in contact with Givens, reach out to Bleier here and there. I think bigger than the game is friendships, so I still reach out to my friends in the game, no matter what uniform I’m in.”
While Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he had never met Jones, he understands the complicated feelings that some of his players might feel.
“I think somebody like Chris Davis who played with him for a long time, that’s a little bit unusual, to see somebody in a different uniform that you played with,” Hyde said. “Those guys obviously were a part of some great moments in Baltimore history, and the postseason runs they had just a handful of years ago. They were obviously huge parts of the lineup and huge parts of the community. I’m sure that they have a very close relationships, and I’m it’s going to be a little unusual for them.
“Obviously, he did so many good things in Baltimore, and we have a lot of respect for that. I know he still has relationships with some of our guys here. A lot of respect for Adam Jones.”
Bundy to be activated Tuesday
Right-hander Dylan Bundy, who went on the injured list last week with right knee tendinitis, will be activated to start Tuesday night in Arizona. Hyde said there were no issues with his work this past week to change that schedule.
“Feels good,” Hyde said. “He should be good to go.”
Left-hander John Means will start the series finale Wednesday.
Around the horn
Right-hander Michael Baumann was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week at Double-A Bowie, an honor mostly owed to his no-hitter Tuesday against Harrisburg. Baumann also pitched Wednesday, and has a 1.10 ERA in six outings for the Baysox since his promotion. ... Jones isn’t the only former Oriole getting a chance to face his old team this week, as first baseman Christian Walker, right-hander Stefan Crichton and left-hander T.J. McFarland are on the Diamondbacks roster.