BOSTON — Center fielder Adam Jones was out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game with a rib cage strain Monday afternoon, but entered the Orioles' 9-7 win over the Boston Red Sox as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that Jones' late-game entrance doesn't necessarily mean he will be back in the starting lineup tonight. Running and throwing haven't been problems for Jones, but swinging a bat could still aggravate the injury. Now that Jones has played, the Orioles couldn't backdate any disabled-list date to Jones' last start, on Wednesday.
"I've been thinking about it last night and today that when he plays, if he has a problem with it, it's going to be a full 15 days, so I wasn't concerned about the backdate days," Showalter said. "The more I thought about it, when he plays — maybe it's tomorrow, maybe it's the next day — if he has a big problem with it, it's not going to be five days, it's going to be 15. So, I said, 'The heck with it. We're going to try to win a game here.' Obviously, the outfield was a challenge for everybody today."
Before Monday's game Jones said that he could have played, but thought it was wise to make sure the injury is completely healed.
"I think it's smart to not try to aggravate it," Jones said. "I'm getting a lot better day by day, which is a positive thing. … Hopefully I can get out there tomorrow, and if not, we just keep progressing and continue to try to get better, because as you know, I want to be out on the field, but if missing a couple more days helps me not miss a month or two months or something like that, then that's just what we're going to have to do."
Before the game, Showalter conceded the cold weather has played a part in sitting Jones and the 25-mph winds before Monday's first pitch had temperatures feeling like the mid 40s. Jones tested the injury before Monday's game, running, throwing and hitting without any setbacks. He said swinging had been the only time he'd felt discomfort in his core.
"I feel pretty good," Jones said. "I'm getting better and it's a lot better than the first day, and Showalter is being patient because, his patience is kind of thin these days, so it's good that he's being patient with me."
Jones said he would like to get to the point where he can swing close to full power in the batting cage. The slugger has an aggressive swing, so he knows the true test will come when he gets into a game.
"That's going to be the ultimate test because you can't simulate the game in BP," Jones said. "The biggest thing is testing it during a game. And obviously the game swings, the game adrenaline's a lot different than BP. In BP, I can easily coast through it, but in the game, you just can't coast through it because the adrenaline is running. So the first thing is I really just want to get it so I don't feel anything, no matter what, even though I can swing harder and harder in BP and get closer and closer to game speed as a possibly can."
Wright ready to go: Even though he won a starting rotation spot out of spring training, Orioles right-hander Mike Wright hasn't pitched in a game in two weeks, his regular-season debut moved back once and rained out another time.
Wright will finally get to start his first game of the season tonight — weather permitting — against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He hasn't pitched since March 28, in a Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox in Fenway Park South in Fort Myers, Fla.
"I'm very excited," Wright said. "I had a good spring training. I'm ready to get the season rolling because this is when it really matters."
He was slated to start the fourth game of the season, but when Opening Day starter Chris Tillman was limited to two innings because of a rain delay, Tillman started that fourth game on short rest. That pushed Wright back to Saturday, but that game was postponed after Wright had already completed his pregame warmup routine.
"When I was ready to take the field they were pulling the tarp, and I think that's the first me and Buck knew about it. When I looked at him and he wasn't happy, I kind of knew I was going to be done because I had already done all of my warmup and I was ready to go out to the field. So it had to really be a short delay if I was going to go back out there."
The beginning of Saturday's game was delayed 35 minutes, and Wright had enough time to warm up before the rain forced another delay; the game was eventually postponed.
"They told me it was going to start at 7:40," Wright said. "It was cold, but I threw. I was ready to go. I was warm. I felt great. Right when the game was supposed to start, they pulled the tarp, so I was not happy. What can you do? That's what God wanted to happen, so that's kind of what happened."
Gausman could get third rehab start: Right-hander Kevin Gausman took a line drive to the inside of his left knee early in Saturday's rehab start at Double-A Bowie and had a large bruise to show for it, but it shouldn't hinder his projected return from the DL.
"I'll be fine," said Gausman, who allowed one run on four hits over two innings (47 pitches) on Sunday. "This happened the second batter of the game and it didn't bother me at all. It should be fine."
Gausman, who opened the season on the DL disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, was slated to return on April 20 following a second rehab stint — a five-inning outing Friday at high Class-A Frederick — but he could get a third rehab start before returning. Gausman said he thinks he could benefit from getting two five-inning outings in the minors.
"I'm going to talk to about them about doing that, doing a five-inning thing twice or going 90 pitches one time before coming up here, I think would be good," Gausman said. "But that's really not up to me. That's something I might talk to them about, maybe bring up in conversation, but ultimately it's up to them."
Around the horn: RHP Brad Brach earned his second relief win in as many days on Monday. … RHP Yovani Gallardo allowed five runs over five innings, ending the Orioles' 12-game streak of starting pitchers allowing three or fewer earned runs. … C Caleb Joseph's third-inning single ended an 0-for-24 skid dating back to last Sept. 20. … 3B Manny Machado extended his hitting streak to 11 games — including the end of last year. That's the longest active streak by an American League player. ... LHP Brian Matusz, who was making his third minor league rehab appearance in Bowie, allowed six runs on seven hits over one inning of work. Seven of the first nine hitters Matusz faced hit safely, including Austin Smith's three-run homer. Matusz was initially expected to throw two or three innings, but pitched just one frame after throwing 30 pitches (23 strikes).