Jones' extra work pays off

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Outfielder ends skid with 3-for-3 night

April 15, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,SUN REPORTER

The young phenom was coming off the toughest game of his brief major league career: four strikeouts in four at-bats against Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon.

Regardless, Adam Jones found his name in the starting lineup again last night.

"I think I've got to put him right back in there, and I think that's the best thing to do," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "And not draw a whole lot of attention to it."

The plan worked. Entering the game in a 0-for-10 skid, Jones had three singles in his first three at-bats -- his second career three-hit game -- raising his average from .211 to .268. He walked in his fourth at-bat.

Before yesterday, Jones had struck out 10 times and walked just once in his first 11 games. But the Orioles weren't too worried.

"He is missing his pitch," Trembley said before the game. "If you look at him, he has seen more pitches in his plate appearances than anybody else on our club. ... He is getting to 2-2 or 3-2 and instead of taking the walk he is chasing some pitches. I think that is a real sign of being overanxious and inexperienced. I don't think he is that far off from getting straightened out."

Jones came to the park early yesterday to work with hitting coach Terry Crowley. They talked, and then Crowley said he worked Jones, 22, pretty intensively.

And the coach predicted his pupil would have a big game.

"We did our regular routine in the tunnel," Crowley said. "We stepped it up a little bit, but first we talked. We talked to make sure everything is OK. And he is fine."

There are plenty of expectations for Jones, who was the key to the February trade that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle. In fact, tonight is Jones' T-shirt giveaway day.

If anyone knows what Jones is going through, it's right fielder Nick Markakis, who started his Orioles career 9-for-38 before turning around his inaugural season.

"The biggest thing is just stay confident. Don't be down on yourself. Work hard," Markakis said. "Go in there early for hitting and stay on top of it. He's going to be in there every day, so he just needs to get into a pattern, get comfortable, and things will eventually happen for him."

Bierd staying put

The biggest early surprise has been the dominance of right-handed reliever Randor Bierd, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Detroit Tigers. He hasn't allowed a run in 7 1/3 innings spanning four appearances. But the Orioles aren't moving Bierd, 24, from his middle relief role.

"The temptation would be to put Bierd in there in the eighth inning," Trembley said. "Not going to do it. ... . Not yet. We're going to leave him right where he's at and let him continue to have success. In the long run, I think we've got something real special there."

Moore at shortstop

Scott Moore, recently sent down to Triple-A Norfolk, played shortstop for the Tides on Sunday. Trembley said the Orioles want Moore, who played shortstop in high school, to work at the position a few times a week in the minors. He has played first, second, third and left field as a major leaguer.

"We think he can hit," Trembley said. "And if he can play shortstop, we've really got something there."

Wieters wins award

Frederick catcher Matt Wieters, the Orioles' top pick in the 2007 amateur draft, had a pretty good first week as a pro, hitting .478 with three home runs and seven RBIs, good enough to be named the Carolina League's Player of the Week. He homered twice in his first game April 4.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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