ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Like so many others assessing what ails the Orioles this month, center fielder Adam Jones can't find one specific thing that deserves the blame for their slide.
But as the team's longest-tenured player and an unquestioned leader in the clubhouse, he's trying everything he knows to help get things turned around.
"I think you just have to not necessarily go with the flow, but you have to remind players of the good things that they've done," Jones said. "Right now, especially, the last 30 games, we haven't played our style of baseball. We'd like to control the tempo of the game. We'd like to control the speed of the game when it comes to our defense and our offense right now. You can't pinpoint anything specific. As a team right now, we're not clicking."
Jones is quick to rattle off their needs, which he believes can help the Orioles turn around their sub-.500 record that has been dragged down by a brutal month of baseball. It starts, he said, with more selfless hitting. Jones encouraged the pitchers to continue to work hard to attack the zone and use their defense, and called on the defense to create outs when pitchers do get hit.
It's all a simple formula the 31-year-old center fielder has seen work for the Orioles before, and is trying to remind everyone that it will again.
"At times like this, you have to just sometimes let the guys know that, 'Hey, we have a long, long, long way to go,'" Jones said. "There's no pressing. Let's just continue to work hard and continue to do the things that put us in this position, and don't forget what got you here. Don't forget what made this a winning organization the last five years. It's been aggravating, is probably a good way to [put it], for our fan base the last month or so."
Earlier this week, left fielder Hyun Soo Kim cited Jones as someone who had been particularly vocal in the clubhouse during the skid. But Jones understands his play is just as important a message as anything else.
Entering Friday, Jones batted .269/.307/.437 with 12 home runs and 32 RBIs in 65 games. He's almost identically on track with last year's .265/.310/.436 batting line, which came with 29 home runs and 83 RBIs. The power production was on par with his career numbers, but his rate stats slipped a bit last season, his first without an All-Star bid since 2011.
He said there's plenty that can be improved on, but he's trying to set a tone for the team. Jones took a hot nine-game stretch that included five multihit games into the series against the Tampa Bay Rays, starting it with a first-inning sacrifice bunt to advance Joey Rickard and help get the Orioles a rare early lead. It worked. That Jones batted .382 over the nine games starting that day is immaterial to him.
"My style of baseball, I'm not just going to let up," Jones said. "Everybody's battling little nicks and bruises around the league. That's no excuse for anybody in my eyes. … I'm my worst critic. There's a lot of things I want to do better, a lot of things I want to stop doing, but at the end of the day, you just grind. All I want to do is be able to go out there on a consistent basis and just grind with my team. The numbers and all that, that doesn't concern me. I just want to win."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before Friday's game that he's always trying to balance whether to change things up for his veteran club or keep things the same. But he said there's no need to coax a different approach from Jones.
"Adam never changes," Showalter said. "You know what you're going to get from him every day: effort. He's going to be engaging. I think he's one of the more consistent guys we have. If somebody says he's moody, he's always moody. You know what I'm saying? I love talking to him. He's always in a competitive mode. He's always on. He doesn't have a competitive off-button."