Monday, April 14, 2008

Slumping Jones Keeps on Swinging

BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Dave Trembley wants to send the right message to center fielder Adam Jones.

Jones has struggled at times in the season's early days and brought just a .211 batting average into Monday's game against the Blue Jays. He has a club-high 10 strikeouts and has drawn only one walk so far.

But Trembley didn't want to pull Jones from the lineup after he struck out four times in Sunday's 6-2 loss to the Rays in St. Petersburg. The skipper strongly believed it would send the wrong message to a young player trying to find his way, so Jones was back in again, batting eighth.

It paid off -- in Jones' first plate appearance on Monday night, he reached for an 0-2 pitch and lined it for a single. In his second, he lined another shot up the middle for a single, and advanced to third on an error.

"I think I had to put him right back in there ... and not draw a lot of attention to [his problems]," Trembley said. "We knew that he was going to have games like this when we got him. We're hoping that's not going to be a regular-case basis."

The Orioles acquired Jones from Seattle in the Erik Bedard deal, and Trembley said that he found some interesting facts about the center fielder after reviewing the season's statistics as the club traveled back to Baltimore on Sunday night.

"He's seen more pitches in his plate appearances than anybody else on our club," Trembley said. "He's getting to 2-2 or 3-2 and, instead of taking the walk, he's [swinging] at some pitches. I think that's a real sign of being overanxious and inexperienced."

Jones went 0-for-4 in each of the final two games in the Tampa Bay series. He's had multi-hit games in two of the team's first 13 contests and has showed signs of the talent many have expected since Seattle made him a first-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.

Trembley said that Jones' maturity is going to be a big help in his development. After his four-strikeout performance Sunday, the outfielder was working hard with hitting coach Terry Crowley before Monday's game to find some answers.

Trembley just doesn't think Jones will let the statistics worry him much, because the outfielder often says that this is a learning time for him.

"I think his makeup is off the charts," Trembley said. "But if you talk to him and you listen to what he says, he doesn't put a lot of pressure on himself, and he doesn't really put a whole lot of credence in the results right now. He'll tell you quite honestly he's still learning, and I think with that approach and his sense of honesty, he's OK."

It's why Trembley said Tuesday's Adam Jones T-shirt night at Oriole Park makes the player a bit confused.

"He doesn't think he's deserving of all that," Trembley said.

But Trembley believes that it's just a matter of time before everyone sees what the Orioles believe Jones can do.

"I don't think he's that far [from] getting straightened out," Trembley said. "


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