NEW YORK – In Adam Jones' postgame interview following the Orioles' 14-5 win over the New York Yankees, the center fielder took a subtle jab at the media for making a big deal of the team's offensive struggles during the first week of the season.
When the team’s 14-run, 20-hit outburst on Tuesday -- following a stretch in which the Orioles scored three or fewer runs in five of their first seven games -- was labeled a “breakthrough,” Jones didn’t bite.
“That’s you guys’ job, to create a story when there really isn’t a story, just to have a story,” he said. “We don’t buy into it as players. It’s kind of just go with the flow and understand that this game is long, and the game’s hard and look at the results.
“We’ve been swinging the bats good, it’s hitting the balls right at people. You guys want results. I got it. It’s all about results. We look at things a little bit differently. We’ve had good at-bats. That’s all we really ask out of everybody is have a good at-bat, go up there and compete. We know that you’re not guaranteed to get a hit, but you can go up there with a good approach and the first eight games of the season, everybody’s went up there with a really good approach. We’re just getting pitches to hit.”
** In the same breath, Jones made bigger headlines when he was very vocal about what he believes should happen to fans who run onto the field, which happened in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s game. He said players should have “a shot to kick them with our metal spikes” and police should “tase the [hell] out of them.”
It’s interesting that Jones mentioned that "idiotic" fans who trespassed onto the field do it because they’re drunk and want to be on SportsCenter -- and then Jones’ quotes on the fans trumped the Orioles’ game highlights on SportsCenter.
You always have to appreciate Jones’ honesty. Most players probably feel the same way he does, and Jones is willing to vocalize that. He can, because he’s an All-Star, Gold Glove winner, Silver Slugger honoree and the Orioles’ franchise player.
** During the daily grind of the baseball season, the page quickly turns to the next challenge. The Orioles will have their hands full against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, the highly touted Japanese pitcher who will be making his home debut tonight.
The Orioles, who jumped on Ivan Nova early with 3-0 and 7-1 leads Tuesday, might need to do the same against Tanaka. In Tanaka’s major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays, he allowed three runs in his first two innings, then rebounded to finish his outing with five scoreless innings. He allowed three runs -- two earned -- and six hits over seven innings with eight strikeouts.
"Your psyche is usually decided by the next pitcher,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We strung some good at-bats together and got some things done. Stayed on our feet. Wei-Yin [Chen] toughed out five innings. He's better than that, and hopefully he will be for us to get where we want to get."
** The best part of the Orioles’ win Tuesday might have been the production out of the 7-8-9 spots in the batting order: Steve Lombardozzi, Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop combined to go 8-for-15 with four runs scored.
"Jonathan's going to be fine,” Showalter said. “So is Ryan. it's just, they've got so much want-to going on right now, and sometimes you can't get in the flow of letting it happen. And try as you may, you can't get them to look at the big picture, so you've got to keep making sure that they get confidence from the confidence you have in them."
Jones said he took Schoop aside and told him to keep being aggressive at the plate.
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been seeing people all wearing them out, saying they need to do this and that,” Jones said. “The guys are up there competing. They’re working their tails off. I told Schoop, I said, 'Hey, keep going up there hacking. Look for your pitch and hack. Whatever you’re hearing, let it go. Go up, see a pitch, get it and don’t miss it, put a good swing on it. Strike out, that’s part of the game. Trust me, I’m going to strike out a lot, too. I’m going to go up there and swing the bat. You’ve got too much talent to go up there and be passive. Go up there and enjoy yourself.' ”
** The Orioles will announce a roster move today, likely placing outfielder David Lough on the 15-day disabled list and recalling utility player Jemile Weeks from Triple-A Norfolk.
Lough missed seven games this spring with neck stiffness but recently said the injury was behind him. He played in the entire game Monday and showed no signs of discomfort.
Weeks has started the season well in Norfolk, and bringing him up gives the Orioles someone who could serve as the backup center fielder in an emergency. Lough normally serves as the backup center fielder behind Jones.
** When you look at the Orioles’ 3-5 start, you also have to consider they’ve been without Gold Glove third baseman Manny Machado, have missed shortstop J.J. Hardy for four games, and now could be without Lough, who hit leadoff for three games and second in the two others and provided solid defense.
Hardy hopes to return today, which would be a huge boost. The biggest challenge for Hardy, who has played through pain before, will be knowing his threshold so that he doesn’t risk the chance for a longer injury. The Orioles need him.
Still, all those injuries are a lot to overcome over the first eight games. But as Showalter always says, no one is going to feel sorry for them.