'It’s who he is': Orioles players praise Adam Jones' professionalism during difficult situation

Adam Jones spent three days on the bench last weekend as the Orioles played the Tampa Bay Rays, and upon the Orioles stalwart’s return to the lineup Tuesday night against the Oakland Athletics, he put aside whatever displeasure lingered and did exactly what anyone who knows him expected.

Jones singled in each of his first two at-bats, representing one-third of the team’s six hits in a 3-2 loss, and showed that no matter what the organization’s priorities are for the rest of the season, what they get from the 33-year-old right fielder will be consistent.


“Not surprising at all,” catcher Caleb Joseph said. “Not surprising at all. It’s who he is. It’s his character, it’s his DNA, it’s why he’s been in the league for 11 years and he’s played at the highest level for a really long time. Some guys just have it, whatever it is. And he’s got it, that it factor. He has it.”

That, combined with what Jones has meant to the Orioles since he arrived in a trade from the Seattle Mariners in February 2008, is enough for his teammates to believe that the Orioles should try their best to meld their plan of looking at younger players and giving Jones a proper launching pad into free agency this winter with regular game time.


“If I was making the decision, I’d play him every day,” shortstop Tim Beckham said. “But we don’t make decisions. We leave that to the front office. That’s their job, and we control what we can control and try to minimize distractions the best we can. Distractions don’t help you play. If you’re focused on distractions, that doesn’t help you play at 7:05. That doesn’t help you play at 1:05. Obviously, I’m not a decision-maker here, but as much as he’s done for this city, as much as he’s done for this organization, he should be in there every day — and I think all the young guys should watch how he plays and learn from him, soak in everything and all the information they can from him before he’s out of here.”

Such an uncomfortable situation with Jones was probably fated from the moment the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline passed without him giving his blessing to a trade. As a veteran with over 10 years of service time and five years with the same team, Jones was able to veto a trade, which he did to the Philadelphia Phillies. Executive vice president Dan Duquette said at the time that the Orioles would still try and look at younger players even if Jones was here, and that’s happened in fits and starts since.

Jones has started 27 of the team’s 37 games since Aug. 1 — a span in which his .292 batting average leads the team and his 103 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) is fifth on the club among players with at least 80 plate appearances.

“A lot of stuff that’s going on, he doesn’t really speak about,” Beckham said. “He continues to be a professional and be a leader to this organization. He doesn’t let a lot of the stuff that everyone is saying get to him. That’s Adam Jones. He’s been doing it for a while, and I’m sure he’s going to continue to do it. He’s playing good baseball, and that’s all we need. That’s what we look for from him.”

As an organization, the Orioles are looking for much of the same from Cedric Mullins, Joey Rickard, John Andreoli and now DJ Stewart as Jones’ playing time fluctuates. Mullins and Rickard have held up that end of the bargain, and Rickard said the fact that some of the younger players’ playing time has come at the expense of Jones hasn’t come up.

“We don’t really talk too much about it,” Rickard said. “We just go out there and whoever is in the lineup, we go out there and just play. … Adam’s always cool. I don’t know if he can be anything else. That’s just who he is. He’s a helpful person, he’s always been a good teammate, and he want the best for the team. He’s somebody I continue to watch every day and try to take stuff from.”

As for what the rest of the season looks like for Jones, none of the players who have spent the most time with him in the Orioles’ clubhouse hope it’s more of the same from Jones in what could be his final few weeks in an Orioles uniform.

“He’s done it the right way and deserves every bit of success that he’s got,” Joseph said. “Whatever happens with the rebuild, they’re getting looks at some younger guys and you understand. With the uncertainty that next year holds, you understand they have to try and cover their bases for next year. But Adam in the lineup gives us a really good chance to win.”


Said Rickard: “I don’t expect anything to change. He plays the game one way, and I obviously expect that just to continue. I look forward to watching him close out the season. He’s continued to be a good leader, and do everything that Adam Jones has done for a very long time.”