PHOENIX – For most baseball fans, seeing Adam Jones in anything besides orange and black was an adjustment. Jones spent 11 years with the Baltimore Orioles before arriving in the desert on a one year, $3 million deal with the Diamondbacks.
Entering Monday, Jones has played in 90 of the Diamondbacks’ 100 games this season with a .267 average, 13 home runs and 44 RBIs. In the 101th game of the season on Arizona’s schedule, Jones will do something he hasn’t done since 2007: play against the Baltimore Orioles.
The five-time All-Star ranks fifth in hits (1,781) and ninth in games played (1,613) in Orioles franchise history. His biggest impact in Baltimore is reflected by his Silver Slugger Award and four Gold Gloves. In six of his seasons for the American League East ballclub, Jones earned the Orioles’ Heart and Hustle award.
“I know we’re playing the Orioles and I’m sure there’s a heavy group of Oriole fans who will be coming to the ballpark today. Whether it’s local fans or maybe some traveling cross country,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “That right there speaks volumes about what he (Jones) probably meant to that community and he’s transitioned that to us. He’s given us the exact same thing he gave them for 11 years in Baltimore. It’s tremendous leadership, charisma. People flock to him and he leads by example.”
When Baltimore fans fill spots at Chase Field for the three-game series starting on Monday, a lot of the support will not only be for the Orioles, but for one of the former faces of the organization.
“I don’t think people are entirely coming out here to see me,” Jones said. “It’s much appreciated. Obviously, they’re spending their hard earned dollars to fly across country. … I was there for awhile, a lot of people got to grow up with me playing there. It’s greatly appreciated that they’re coming and watching me.”
Despite being drafted and brought through the minor leagues by the Seattle Mariners, Jones’ home was always in Baltimore after being packaged in a trade for pitcher Erik Bedard before the 2008 season.
Jones signed a six-year extension in 2012, and his comments there hinted that a departure from Baltimore would be heart wrenching.
“I fit here in this city. I fit here on this team. I fit in Camden Yards,” he said after the extension. “I really don’t see myself wearing another white uniform that doesn’t have ‘Orioles’ across the chest.”
Part of the reason Jones has a new uniform in 2019 is the state of the Orioles. Entering their series against the Diamondbacks, the Orioles were tied for the worst winning percentage in Major League Baseball. The team is a month removed from using the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft on Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman. Clearly bringing back Jones wasn’t in the plans in the rebuilding process in Baltimore.
Instead of a 12th season in the Charm City, Jones is attempting to play a major part on a team battling for one of two wild card spots in the National League. Before their series with the last-place Orioles, the DBacks are .500 and 2 1/2 games back of the second wild card spot.
“I had five, six years of (contention) over there,” Jones said. “It’s good to be fighting for something. We’re in a great place, we got a great group of guys. We have an attainable goal, we have to after it and get it.”
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