Adam Jones returns to center field, is honored by teammates before what's possibly his final game with Orioles

For years, Adam Jones led the Orioles onto the field at Camden Yards before every game. The team’s unofficial captain and longtime starting center fielder was the first to step out of the dugout and take his place on the field before the national anthem, other players following him in step.

And on Sunday, in what might be his final game in an Orioles uniform, his teammates found a fitting way to honor him.

Manager Buck Showalter started Jones — who shifted to right field in August — back in center field for Game 162, and as Jones took the field, his teammates stayed outside the dugout, joining in the standing ovation the Oriole Park crowd gave Jones.

“I just thought it'd be a good idea,” Showalter said before the game of starting Jones in center.

That left Jones on the field alone, standing behind second base in shallow center field. Jones tipped his cap to the crowd and to both dugouts, before the Orioles starters joined him on the field.

The crowd also gave Jones a standing ovation before his first at-bat — as had been the case before every at-bat in this final series of the season — and Houston Astros starter Charlie Morton stepped off the mound to give Jones his moment. Jones took a few swings before stepping into the batter’s box.

“You never know what the future and other things are going to bring,” said Showalter, whose final game as Orioles manager could also be today. “Adam and I were talking today because a lot of stuff in our time here kind of parallels a little bit. But I've had a lot of people kind of saying things to you, and he said, 'Gosh, am I definitely not coming back?' I said, 'People are just very respectful to you. They just want to make sure.’ You've got to take it at face value for what it is.”

Jones has deflected the attention given to him over the season’s final days, saying he’s focused on continuing to do his job and help the Orioles win. After the first inning, Jones moved to right field as Cedric Mullins — who had taken over in center over the season’s last six weeks — went to center.

“Let's see where he's playing in the second inning,” Showalter said before the game. “Let's see where he's playing in the ninth inning. I don't know. We've talked about it, but as usual, Adam would like to win the game.”

eencina@baltsun.com

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