In the middle of a final Orioles series that’s become Adam Jones appreciation weekend, the veteran outfielder said Saturday that he still has plenty of good baseball ahead of him. It seems unlikely that will be played in an Orioles uniform, but that remains to be seen.
Before Saturday’s doubleheader against the Houston Astros, Jones sat in the Orioles dugout and spoke about his community service, the past two months since vetoing a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies and what his future holds beyond this weekend.
As he held court with a media scrum, contemplating whether he’s had any regrets about his time in Baltimore — he quickly said he wished he found an efficient detour to avoid downtown traffic on Lombard Street — Jones, 33, saw first base coach Wayne Kirby and zeroed in on him.
“I’ve done everything I can do. I’ve still got a lot in the tank and you know it,” he said, directing his words at Kirby. “There’s a lot let in the tank. The oil got changed. There’s a lot left in the tank.”
On Saturday — a day that offered Orioles fans twice the opportunity to stand for every one of Jones at-bats — it was about recognizing his community service. The Orioles, Jones and his wife, Audie, contributed $150,000 to several local nonprofit organizations. The donation is the most recent among hundreds of thousands of dollars Jones has contributed to the community over his 11 years in Baltimore.
“My production between these lines has helped fuel everything off the field,” Jones said. “If I wasn’t that good a player, ain’t nobody coming out to [the events]. … This city has just supported me through everything and everything I’ve done between these lines, they’ve appreciated throughout the years. And at the end of the day, what I do between these lines dictates what happens away from it. It’s been a blessing to be a productive player to where I can venture myself out and loan myself out and loan my likenesses out to the city.
“This is where I was at. If I was in another city, if I stayed in Seattle, [I’d be doing the same]. They got me understanding what the community means to the franchise. The Mariners did a great job and they still do a great job of involving themselves in the community. And what I learned during my short time there was to involve yourself in the community that supports your franchise. It was easy to do. It was because I was here and this is where my mark was. If I was in any other city and I hopefully had the same success, I would have done the same thing.”
Jones said he blocked the Orioles’ potential trade to the Phillies because he believed playing a less significant role — albeit with a playoff contender — would hurt his free-agent stock this offseason. It’s a decision he doesn’t regret.
“Not a bit,” Jones said. “Why would I? If anyone can give me one reason why. There’s no reason why.”
Jones said remaining in Baltimore allowed him to remain a contributor to the community until the end of the season. He said his wife has been working since August to make the donations presented Saturday.
“We wanted to stay around because we did have so many charitable interests that we wanted to see through and make sure that they were followed through,” Audie Fugett Jones said. “We are happy that today we’re going to be able to show all the hard work and time we have spent with these organizations and we’re going to see finally the money is going to be dispersed. We’re just really, really happy.”
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Said Jones: “The charitable stuff, I know it’s being announced now. This stuff has been in the works for months. My wife has had all of this stuff orchestrated for months. I think now it’s the perfect time to put it out, it’s good for the last weekend. I get all that stuff. But we’ve had all this stuff done for a while because we really wanted to get it moving and get it going. But when you don’t control the funds and have to wait for the funds to come … and that’s what we did and I guess we have our allowance for our programs. I’m glad that the groups now are getting the money and getting the opportunity to further the programs that we’ve talked about, so hopefully some players if I’m not here can pick up the slack for some of these programs because they are great programs. It’s Baltimore helping Baltimore and Baltimore investing in Baltimore.”
Jones, who was able to block a trade because of 10-and-5 rights — 10 years of major league service time and five seasons with the same club — said both sides “hold the cards” on deciding whether he returns to Baltimore or this is really goodbye.
Asked what his possible departure will mean for the programs he’s helped, Jones said, “It’s hard to do something when you’re not present. It’s something I have to wait and see how my future [turns] out.”
He said he hoped if he’s no longer with the team that a new player would emerge, but that on-field success must come first, as it did with him.
If it is indeed the end for Jones, he said it was rewarding to extend his time in Baltimore these past two months, saying he’s received so much appreciation for what he’s given the Orioles and the city on and off the field. He will have at least one more event this offseason, his sixth annual benefit tailgate event before a Ravens game in November, an event that raised $101,000 last season.
“I get a lot of different messages from a lot of different kids, a lot of fans, especially over the last month, two months, especially since I said no to the trade, just appreciations of [what I do],” Jones said. “It comes full circle. People appreciate me showing up to work every day, and in a city like Baltimore, a place [where] fans don’t like excuses, fans just want to you to show up to work and shut the hell up and play the game hard. That’s what I’ve done.
“Not shut the hell up,” Jones said, correcting himself. “But play the game hard.”