When Jahmai Jones joined the Orioles last month in the midst of a lengthy losing streak, he vowed to bring energy to the club the same way he has at every other stop in his baseball career.
That bright-side approach is ensuring the team’s rookie second baseman, acquired this winter in a trade of veteran starter Alex Cobb to the Los Angeles Angels, isn’t going to be overwhelmed by a difficult start with the Orioles.
“Biggest thing is just not taking the negatives too serious,” Jones said. “It’s such a game of failure that you’re going to be failing a lot up here, and you can either learn from it and get better, or you can let it bury you.
“The main thing I’m trying to do is just learn from everything — whether it’s an error in the field, a strikeout, a flyout, a really good play. Just trying to learn as much as I possibly can. That’s all I want to do. I’m surrounded by great players and great coaches. For me to not take advantage of that when I’m up here would just be unfair to myself and my career. I want to be the best person I can be, and I know I can’t do that alone.”
Jones, 24, was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 27 to face his former team. He’d had an up-and-down season with the Tides, missing a month with an oblique injury and hitting well upon his return in June. He had a .900 OPS in 33 games after his return June 8, and a .519 OPS in the ensuing 30 games leading up to his promotion.
In the majors, Jones has hit the ball hard often with little to show for it. He’s batting .156 with .414 OPS in 13 games, but said Wednesday that he’s “not panicking” at such a small sample.
“I’m getting more comfortable with every game that I play, and I’m doing things well,” Jones said. “I’m just going to continue to do that and not think as much about the negative things.”
Manager Brandon Hyde said it’s “still really early” for any kind of evaluation of Jones.
“I think he’s had some good at-bats, and had some struggles,” Hyde said. “But it was exciting to see him turn around a fastball last night to left field. He got a big pinch-hit in New York, drove the ball the other way. You see some tools there. Now it’s just getting acclimated to major league pitching. It’s not easy up here. It’s not easy up here, when you haven’t had a ton of at-bats, learning a new position also at second base. It’s all there. It’s just an adjustment period.”
Even though Jones debuted last September with the Angels, he acknowledged he’s still been getting his feet wet. He appreciates the chance to play as often as he has while doing so, and the message to just go out and play and be himself. He said he’s been getting more comfortable as he goes, and isn’t putting as much pressure on what happens through the end of the season.
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“If I play well, next year I still have to come out and show it and prove that I can play here,” Jones said. “If I play bad, I still have to come out next year and prove that I can play here. Regardless of what happens, I just want to play my best and do as well as I can for just my own personal satisfaction. I don’t necessarily have a set goal or numbers in mind on anything. Just putting together good [at-bats], putting together good defense and trying to set up my career.”