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Orioles notes: Adam Jones could be back in lineup soon

Center fielder Adam Jones put his left hamstring through a series of running drills before Tuesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, but he remained out of the Orioles' starting lineup for the fourth straight day.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Jones' hamstring is improving, but the team is still determined to ensure Jones doesn't return too quickly.

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He's "close, very close," Showalter said. "He still feels it just a little bit on one movement. He's close. We could play him, [but] would take a pretty big risk that he might not be with us for the rest of the year. So we want to be careful."

Showalter wouldn't elaborate on what movement was still aggravating Jones, but Jones did do baserunning drills in which he had to start and stop.

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"This is the first time he's really kind of [done] a lot of the activity he did," Showalter said. "Had some throwovers to first base where he had to start and stop. Most things like that, you're fine when you're underway. It's the [deceleration] or the acceleration phase that gets you.

"And I don't care how much to do out there, there's a difference intensity with the game starts," Showalter said. "So that's why you'd like for there not to be anything. I'm not going to get into the exact thing that he feels a little bit. He's really close. There's not any of the symptoms of long-term stuff. … We feel like we caught it, didn't push it to where it actually comes apart."

Showalter indicated that Jones could be available to come off the bench, but Thursday's off day would give the team the opportunity to give Jones an extra day of rest after Wednesday's series finale against Toronto.

"We feel like if Adam was ready to go, he'd play today," Showalter said. "But he's available to us. He's close."

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Jones, who had prided himself in being in the lineup every day, said Monday that he doesn't want to risk aggravating the injury and missing more time.

"I think wisdom comes with years," Showalter said. "When Adam plays, which is most of the time, it's with that fearless, reckless abandon, but it's gotten smarter, too. It's kind of like taking unneeded hits in football. Sometimes in a long season like we play, you do need to live to fight another day. That's true on a lot of fronts."

Alvarez gets his hacks against Happ: Designated hitter Pedro Alvarez was one of the Orioles' hottest hitters in the first week of August, batting .329/.338/.737 over a five-week stretch leading into Aug. 5, including six homers in a seven game span in which he went 13-for-28.

But a pair of interleague trips to National League parks, where American League clubs can't use a DH, and a frequent number of left-handed starters — he's played primarily against righties — have made Alvarez's playing time inconsistent.

"That's one of the negatives of interleague play, because clubs are designed with that in mind," Showalter said. "It's not that Pete can't play a position. And when you get that far away from one, I'm very cautious about putting a player in that situation where he might not be comfortable. He would never say it. He works hard on his defense every day to be ready for us, but it's another challenge American League clubs face in this because it takes [away] a very vital part of your team."

On Tuesday, however, Showalter gave Alvarez his second start against a left-handed pitcher when he batted second against Toronto's J.A. Happ. His only other start against a lefty starter this year was also against Happ, on July 30 in Toronto. Alvarez went 1-for-3 with a solo home run against Happ that game.

Alvarez is just 6-for-30 against left-handers this season, but he's has reached base in six of 12 career plate appearances against Happ, going 4-for-10 with two walks a double and the homer.

"Pete's had a little success against him," Showalter said. "We played him over there against them in Toronto. If Adam was in the lineup, I still might have gotten Pete in there."

Tillman scheduled to throw off mound this weekend: Right-hander Chris Tillman said he felt good Tuesday after his flat-ground throwing session Monday, a light toss that was his first since going on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis.

Tillman is scheduled to throw off flat ground again Wednesday, and Showalter said if that goes well, he should be able to throw off a mound this weekend.

Still, Showalter said that after seeing the schedule that pitching coach Dave Wallace and head trainer Richie Bancells have mapped out for Tillman, he doesn't think Tillman will return from the DL on Sept. 9 or 10, as was expected.

"I see what they're trying to do, and they're right. Chris feels good. He has to cross over a couple thresholds to get to the dates. Sometime that weekend."

Any simulated game that Tillman would have before returning from the DL will likely be done with the big league club, especially with the minor league season coming to a close next week and no competitive activity taking place in Sarasota before instructional league.

Around the horn: Showalter met with executive vice president Dan Duquette on Tuesday to discuss September callups, and Showalter said Duquette is still surveying the trade front for upgrades. … Outfielder Julio Borbon and right-hander Logan Ondrusek cleared waivers and were outrighted to Double-A Bowie on Tuesday. … Former Orioles outfielder and current vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson headlined this year's Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame Class, the organization announced Tuesday. Former Sun Orioles writer Jim Henneman will receive the annual John Steadman Lifetime Achievement Award.

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