Adam Jones suddenly piling up the walks after long streak without one

ARLINGTON, Texas — After going through a span of 43 games without drawing a walk, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones has suddenly drawn four in his past three games entering Saturday.

Jones had just 14 walks in 417 plate appearances this season heading into the second game of this weekend's series against the Texas Rangers.

"There is no explanation, trust me," Jones quipped about his sudden streak of walks. He joked that he's been using the bat that he used to smack his batting helmet into the Yankee Stadium tunnel in frustration earlier this month.

Jones admitted he's tried to tighten his strike zone a bit, but his aggressiveness at the plate is why he's such a valued run producer.

"There's just such a fine line between being aggressive and being selective," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I've said many times: You can't take before you hit. It's been proven that [the other] theory, it doesn't work. His take mechanism has gotten a little better, but there are some pitches he swings at and hits hard that I'm glad he's aggressive with.

"He knows," Showalter added. "It's so obvious to him. We talk about it. I'm not going to browbeat the heck out of him. But he holds himself to a real high standard. It's not like he just gives in. We know how good he is when guys have to stay in the strike zone."

McLouth's steals down

Left fielder Nate McLouth was still tied for second in the American League with 24 stolen bases entering Saturday, but he hadn't recorded a steal in his past 24 games, his last coming on June 19.

While McLouth is not logging steals at the same pace as earlier in the year — he had 21 stolen bases 58 games into the season — Showalter said his speed on the bases is still a factor.

Showalter said McLouth has forced opposing pitchers into quicker times to the plate when he's one base, and that's translated into better hitting opportunities for the batters who follow McLouth.

"I love what he's doing," Showalter said. Guys are about 1.1 [seconds] to the plate when he's over there now. And he's not going to run into outs.

"We talked about it in the dugout the other day," Showalter added. " ... He's impacting the game even when he doesn't run. If they relax on him again, he'll ambush them."

Around the horn

Right-hander Steve Johnson (left oblique strain) tossed two scoreless and hitless innings Saturday in a Gulf Coast League game, the first in his rehabilitation assignment. The St. Paul's alum struck out three and walked one. He is returning to Maryland to attend a family funeral and is expected to continue his rehab pitching for short-season Single-A Aberdeen. … Outfielder Eric Thames, acquired from the Seattle Mariners last month in exchange for minor league infielder Ty Kelly, was activated from the Triple-A disabled list and started for Norfolk in right field Saturday. He was on the DL with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand after being spiked in a game June 15. … The Orioles bullpen posted a 1.92 ERA in its previous 18 games heading into Saturday.

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